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Cheshire Residents Encouraged To Know Their Healthcare Options

Make the right decision

17 January 2018

The NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside is asking people to think carefully and to consider which health service to use this winter as the number of admissions to hospitals in the area continues to rise.

After a busy festive period, ailments arising from cold weather and flu as well as cases of the winter bug, norovirus, mean demand on NHS services is heightened.

Conditions like heart disease, stroke and lung illnesses, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are worsened by the cold weather. It can also be a difficult time for asthma suffers, while cases of respiratory illness often go up 100%, causing hospital beds to fill up quickly.

People are being urged, at the first sign of minor ailment, to self-care or get advice from their local pharmacy and are being reminded that by choosing the right service, you can get the best treatment in the shortest possible time. Whilst keeping A&E departments free to treat patients with the most serious conditions who need urgent care.

During the recent festive period and into the New Year, many NHS services have put additional medical and support staff in place to manage increased demand at this busy time of the year. Moreover, many general practices are now open later on evenings as well as weekends through NHS England’s General Practice Forward View plans.

Chris Oliver, Chief Operating Officer at Mid Cheshire Hospitals, said: “As is the picture across the country, Leighton Hospital is currently seeing high volumes of very unwell patients.

“To manage the increased demand on services that we experience every winter, we have plans in place to ensure that services continue to run as smoothly as possible while ensuring that patients’ needs continue to be met. Staff across the organisation are working very hard to achieve this and, on behalf of the Trust, I’d like to thank them for their support, care and compassion.

“It’s not about stopping those who need urgent medical attention from going to A&E, but about helping at-risk groups stay well and warding off common winter illnesses before they become more serious and a hospital stay is needed.

“However, we are also urging anyone with a non-urgent medical complaint to support us by making full use of alternative community services. Many minor ailments can be treated at home and pharmacists can offer friendly and confidential advice for common minor illnesses, such as diarrhoea, minor infections, headaches and sore throats.

“If you don’t know who to turn to, or need urgent medical help but it’s not a life-threatening situation, call NHS 111. It’s free and a highly trained advisor will direct you to the best medical care for you.

 “Choosing which NHS service is right for you may not always be easy, but it can really help reduce pressure on other parts of the NHS, for example calls to 999 or visits to A&E.

“Those in at risk categories can also help by getting/asking for their free flu jab. It’s the best way to ensure protection against catching flu and developing serious complications.”

Additional information: 

There’s lots of great advice available on www.nhs.uk. Here are some useful ones to remember:

Most coughs go away on their own within three weeks. There's usually no need to see a GP unless symptoms don’t dissipate. You should:

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Drink hot lemon with honey (not suitable for babies)
  • Ensure your medicine cabinet is well stocked up or go to your pharmacist for advice
  • Try to keep as warm as you can and if possible keeps rooms at 18°c
  • The flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to help protect adults and children at risk of flu and its complications
  • Flu on top of any long term health condition can easily develop into something very serious, and you could end up in hospital – avail of your free jab and take action at the first sign of any illness
  • To reduce the risk of spreading flu:
                  - use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
                  - wash your hands often with warm water and soap
                  - bin used tissues as quickly as possible
  • Many GPs are open later on evenings as well as weekends. They can help with symptoms that don’t seem to be going away