WITH Christmas merely days away, health chiefs in West Lancashire are urging local residents to consider how they use 999 and A&E over the festive period.
As many prepare to tuck into turkey, celebrate with friends and family, or enjoy a festive night out, health chiefs in the region are reminding residents to think before dialling 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 how and when to access local services for treatment, care and advice
when they need it and how to help themselves and their families 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.
“We are not saying don’t use A&E. We are saying use A&E wisely,” said Dr Dave Snow, associate medical director for urgent care at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust.
“Many people who arrive at A&E, particularly by ambulance following a 999 call, do need hospital care and will be seen immediately. However, there are others whose care needs could be met just as well by their GP, a pharmacist or by treating the symptoms themselves.
“A&E is for people facing life-threatening and serious emergencies such as serious accidents, breathing problems, heart attacks and strokes. Please keep our staff free for them.”
Dr John Caine, a GP in Parbold and chair at NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, 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.”
“If you or your loved ones require medical assistance outside of normal GP opening hours this bank holiday, there is a wide range of alternative health services available including the NHS 111 service, walk-in centres and pharmacists who are qualified to offer advice and treat common, everyday illnesses quickly and conveniently.”
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