THE festive season is now upon us and your local NHS is offering residents advice on how to stay well this winter and avoid any nasty winter illnesses.
Winter is an exciting time for many, but this time of the year can pose problems for our health and wellbeing, especially for people with a long-term condition and those people aged over-65. Cold and wet weather, ice, snow and windy conditions all play their part in making existing health conditions worst and making people vulnerable to picking up winter illnesses such as colds, sore throats, asthma, norovirus and most commonly the flu.
Help is at hand though, by being prepared, thinking carefully and knowing how to examine your options in Southport, Formby and West Lancashire.
Feeling Unwell? – Examine Your Options
Across the area there are a range of health services to support people if they feel unwell or have any health concerns. There are services which you may be unfamiliar with, but could be more appropriate and convenient for you depending on your specific issue.
Several pharmacies will be open throughout the Christmas bank holiday period and the best way to find out which pharmacy is open and when, is to visit your CCG’s website and check out their Twitter and Facebook pages for on the day updates.
Your local pharmacy can offer free, confidential and expert advice on a range of health issues. They can also help you to prepare for many common winter illnesses and offer advice on which medicines to keep in stock at home.
You can find a wealth of trusted advice about hundreds of health conditions and details of GPs, pharmacies in your local area by visiting www.nhs.uk. This useful website also includes a handy symptom checker.
When you need medical help or advice fast, but it is not a 999 emergency, you can also call the NHS 111 service. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
If you need medical care for illnesses you cannot treat yourself, then your GP should be your next port of call.
Your Local GP
Your GP should be your first point of contact for non-emergency illnesses that you can’t treat yourself. Your GP is available from 8.00am to 6.30pm weekdays and residents in West Lancashire, can now also see a GP on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm and Sundays from 10am to 2pm at the Sandy Lane Health Centre in Skelmersdale, by simply making an appointment through your usual GP practice.
However, during the festive period, as Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on a Bank Holiday, this extended service will not operate on these days and on New Year’s Eve it is GP and Nurse appointments only from 9am to 1pm.
West Lancashire has two walk-in centres: The West Lancashire Health Centre at Ormskirk Hospital, Wigan Road, Ormskirk, L39 2AZ, which is open from 8am to 7.30pm, seven days a week and the Skelmersdale Walk-in Centre at The Concourse, Skelmersdale, L39 2AZ, which is open from 8am to 7.30pm, Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
On Christmas Day and New Years’ Day, both walk-in centres will be open from 9am to 5pm. For the remaining bank holiday’s (26, 27 December and 2 January) the West Lancashire Walk-in Centre will be open from 8am to 7.30pm and the Skelmersdale Walk-in Centre will be open from 9am to 5pm
The experts in these centres can treat a wide range of illnesses and conditions, like minor infections, rashes, stomach upsets, small cuts and bruises, strains and sprains, coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms and more.
To access help from the walk-in centre, simply walk in and speak to the receptionist. Once you are booked in, you’ll be seen by a triage nurse who’ll decide how urgent your case is and you will be then be seen by a nurse practitioner in priority order.
Manage your repeat prescriptions and make GP appointments from the comfort of your own home, without having to venture outside, by using the new FREE Patient Access website: https://patient.emisaccess.co.uk and smartphone app. Simply search for ‘Patient Access’ in the app store.
Remember though, if using Patient Access for the very first time, you will first have to contact your GP practice so that you can register to use the app.
Dr John Caine, a GP in Parbold and chair at NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Everyone wants to enjoy themselves at this time of the year, but a winter bug can dampen any spirits.
“The best advice that I can offer is to be prepared, if you are entitled to a free flu vaccination then make sure you get it, visit your pharmacist to ensure that you have the right at home medication, order your repeat prescriptions using Patient Access well before the bank holiday rush and make sure that you have plenty of food stocked up at home, just in case we are visited by some nasty weather.
“It’s also really important to make sure that we look out for not only family and friends, but also for any elderly neighbours as well, those who may struggle to get out of the house this time of the year, to ensure that they have everything that they need.
“If you are unlucky and get poorly, knowing what to do and where to go for your specific medical need, will ensure that you have a speedy recovery.”
For up to the minute information on where to go if you fall ill during the bank holiday, visit the NHS West Lancashire CCG website: www.westlancashireccg.nhs.uk as well as their Twitter and Facebook pages, or visit Examine Your Options: www.examineyouroptions.info