Patients in West Lancashire are being encouraged to use the GP Out of Hours service this winter and potentially avoid a wasted trip to Accident and Emergency (A&E).
Local intelligence shows some patients are not aware that the GP Out of Hours service is available, and is run by local GPs. This means they are often delaying treatment after a GP practice is closed or are defaulting to A&E.
Dr Peter Gregory, local GP and board member of NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We are aware that many patients are unsure how to access this GP service. Many seem reluctant to call the practice out of hours because they think they will be getting their doctor out of bed.
“As a result patients are either waiting in pain and discomfort until the next working day to get an appointment –possibly risking their health – or are presenting at A&E often with problems that are not emergencies. We want to make it clear to patients across West Lancashire that local GPs are accessible 24 hours a day – even out of hours and on bank holidays.”
The advice to patients who become unwell is that they should think about whether they can self-care in the first instance – not all health issues need medical attention and many can be managed safely in the home.
The pharmacy minor ailments scheme means that you can have a consultation with your pharmacist and obtain advice about treatment. If you don’t pay for prescriptions, the treatment the pharmacist recommends is also free.
But if patients do require medical attention then the next port of call should be their GP. They can access medical care from a GP 24 hours a day – if their surgery is closed, just dial 111.
To find your local NHS services, go to www.nhs.uk to use the free service finder.