NHS plea to choose the right service as pressures increase

Fri 08th July 2022

The NHS in the North East and North Cumbria is calling on the public to help as pressures increase in hospitals, GP practices and the ambulance service during the summer months.

Health services in the region are currently experiencing very high levels of demand and NHS leaders are asking for support from the public by; getting vaccinated if they haven’t already, choosing the right service for their health need and by thinking ahead about their own health and what they can do to stay well.

The call for the public to help and take-action comes as NHS teams are seeing an increase in Covid infection rates including hospitalisation – although thankfully not anywhere near previous levels during the pandemic. The rising infection rates has also resulted in an increase in staff absences.

Emergency and other urgent walk-in departments are also extremely busy, during these longer days of summer, with patients warned that they may face long waits. Staff are doing everything they can to manage this and ensure people are seen as soon as possible, but the public can help by only calling 999 or attending A&E if their condition is life threatening and by thinking about other options such as their pharmacy, 111 online and GP.

Dr Neil O’Brien, medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board said: “With Covid infection rates increasing it is vitally important that anyone who has not been vaccinated or have not taken up the offer of a booster vaccine goes and gets it. This is still our best defence against the virus.

“If visiting health care settings please remember to wash your hands more frequently – this helps to stop the spread of not just the Covid-19 virus but other things like norovirus. If you have Covid like symptoms please try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you feel better.

“Our NHS teams are here to care for people and people should not delay seeking medical advice and help if they need it, but we ask them to think carefully about which service they access. Our emergency departments need to focus on treating patients with life-threatening conditions.

“Please go online to NHS 111 or contact your local pharmacy for expert advice on self-care.”

The NHS is also putting in place a range of initiatives to help direct people to the best service for their needs. One new initiative recently launched in the region enables local pharmacists to treat women with uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) without the need for a GP appointment or prescription, providing a more convenient option and faster access to treatment.

Dawn Cruickshank, superintendent pharmacist and chair of Community Pharmacy County Durham, added: “Patients are now using pharmacies much more as their first port of call for many minor ailments since start of the pandemic.

“This new initiative means that for the large number of patients that come into a community pharmacy with symptoms of a UTI we can now not only advise and support but also provide treatment, where appropriate, to treat the cause.

“Not all patients will need antibiotics but for those that do we can provide them quickly and conveniently, without the need to direct people to their GP practice for an appointment.”

“This is just one example of how people can get treatment for minor health issues from their local pharmacist and I urge people to pop by and talk about a health or wellbeing concern including weight management, smoking or advice if starting on a new medicine.”

“Community pharmacists are highly trained and experts in medicine who can offer clinical advice and offer treatment for a range of minor illnesses. By visiting the pharmacy first people can significantly reduce the demand on general practice and limit the number of unnecessary visits to emergency departments and other health care providers.”



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