With Christmas just around the corner, health chiefs in West Lancashire are urging local patients to consider how they use 999 and A&E over the four-day bank holiday.
As many prepare to tuck into turkey, celebrate with friends and family or enjoy a festive night out, NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is reminding residents to think before dialing 999 or visiting accident and emergency departments over the bank holiday.
The message is part of the Examine your Options campaign, which aims to give people information so that they know where to go to in the first instance, to get fast, expert advice when they need it and how to help themselves if they have a common illness or ailment – and help ease the pressure on A&E and 999 services at the same time.
It also reinforces the message that A&E and 999 services are for serious illnesses and life-threatening injuries only.
Dr Jack Kinsey, local GP and board member of NHS West Lancashire CCG, said: “With the increasing pressure on emergency services over the busy Christmas and New Year period, we are stressing the importance of ensuring A&E and the 999 number are kept free for genuine medical emergencies.
“It is vital to remember that the ambulance service and A&E should not be used as an alternative to your GP if your surgery is closed. If you require medical assistance outside of normal surgery hours this bank holiday, patients in West Lancashire have access to a wide range of alternative health services available including GP out-of-hours services, walk-in services and pharmacists who are qualified to offer advice and treat common, everyday illnesses quickly and conveniently.”
Alternative NHS services available to West Lancashire residents:
• GP out-of-hours service – For times when you need to see a doctor when your GP surgery is closed, GP out-of-hours services are available on the usual surgery number and are staffed by local doctors and nurses who can offer advice or, if necessary, treatment at home or in a local health centre.
• Walk-in Centres – With no appointment necessary Walk-in Centres are managed by doctors and nurses who are available to deal with minor illnesses and injuries. Most are also open out of office hours, 365 days a year.
West Lancashire Health Centre: 01695 588800
Skelmersdale Walk-in Centre: 01695 554260
• Pharmacies –Pharmacists are qualified to offer advice on health issues and medication as well as treat coughs, colds and other common illnesses without an appointment. For those that wish to speak to a pharmacist in private, many have a consultation rooms away from customers to discuss health queries