WINTER can be a particularly challenging time for the regions health services, but health chiefs in West Lancashire, Southport and Formby are urging local residents to examine their options to help ease pressure on your local A&E and 999 services.
The Examine your Options campaign, 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 and their families if they have a minor illness, thinking carefully and knowing how to examine their options.
Dr John Caine, a GP in Parbold and chair at NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “There are a wide number of services available to residents who find themselves falling ill and it’s really important that residents know where to go for what illness or condition.
“Ultimately, our A&E and 999 services are for serious and life threatening injuries only and we can all ease pressure on our A&E department, by using other more appropriate services when we find ourselves ill.”
Dr Rob Caudwell, GP and chair at NHS Southport and Formby CCG said: “If you or a loved one finds yourself ill outside of usual GP opening hours, then there are services available for you.
“By using the right service at the right time, we can all play our part to help ease pressure on our A&E Department and ensure that those people in the most need are seen to sooner.
“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.”
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.
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. A GP is available from 8am to 6.30pm weekdays for residents in West Lancashire (local GP practice times in West Lancashire may vary). Residents 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.
And just launched in West Lancashire, from Thursday 12 January 2017, West Lancashire residents can now see a GP on Thursday evenings 6.30pm to 8pm, at the Ormskirk walk-in centre and from Friday 3 February 2017, from 6.30pm to 8pm at the Ormskirk walk-in centre. To make an appointment to see a GP in these extended hours, again residents simply need to do this through their usual GP surgery.
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.
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 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.
For up to the minute information on where to go if you fall ill visit the Examine Your Options website: www.examineyouroptions.info