Hospitals, especially A&E departments, can be busier than ever in the winter.
A new video to help people to find the right local health advice or treatment when they feel unwell has just been released by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
The video aims to free up busy A&E staff in hospitals from dealing with minor ailments such as cuts, colds, flu or sprains that can be treated by a high street pharmacist or local family doctor or nurse, allowing them to concentrate on the serious emergencies that require hospital treatment.
The video will be shown in local GP surgeries and NHS waiting rooms to show the alternative health care and advice that is available, rather than an unnecessary visit to a busy A&E department.
Dr Alvin Low, Chairman of Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) said: “A&E departments provide vital care for serious emergencies, or life-threatening situations such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding.
“Hospital A&E departments can be overwhelmed when people go there for medical help that could be dealt with by another NHS service such as a pharmacy, the NHS111 free phone number or a GP.
“Our video shows that if you need medical assistance fast, but it’s not life threatening or you’re not sure where to go, you can call 111 to speak to trained NHS staff who will assess you and direct you to the right service.
“That’s why it is important to use the other NHS services for more minor conditions so that A&E teams can get on with treating serious injuries and accidents.”
NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls are free from landlines and mobile phones: NHS111 staff will direct you to hospital if it is appropriate for your needs.
You can get early advice from your local pharmacist who is a highly trained healthcare expert on a wide range of long-term health conditions and common illnesses. Your pharmacist will tell you if you need further medical attention.
Your local family doctor can assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. If you have a minor illness or injury (such as infection, vomiting or stomach ache) that can’t wait until your GP surgery is open, then call your GP’s via out of hours service or dial 111.