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Saturday, 18 November 2017
Healthcare options this festive season
15 December 2016

With Christmas fast approaching, local people are being reminded of the healthcare options available over the festive season.

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and chairman of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The festive season is always a busy time for NHS services and staff. This is why it is so important for people to make the right choice and choose the most appropriate place to go for treatment should they need it.

"People should remember that their hospital’s emergency department (A&E) is the place to go only if you've had a serious accident or have a medical emergency.”

Dr Christopher Browning, a GP in Long Melford and chairman of NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said:" During this busy time we want people to consider the other healthcare options available to them. By making the right choice people will get treated more quickly and emergency department staff will be able to focus on helping people with serious, life-threatening conditions."

Carolyn Tester, transformation lead at Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust said: "We would urge everyone to think carefully about the best place to go for treatment this winter. We never turn patients away but ask people to use their emergency department responsibly and only come if absolutely necessary."

Jon Green, chief operating officer at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Emergency departments come under increasing pressure, particularly over the winter period. It’s important that as far as possible we make sure that the people who visit the department really need to be there. There are other services that provide urgent advice and assistance and we are working to encourage local people to use these services when appropriate. Pharmacists, GPs and the 111 telephone service are all geared up to help people who need support, but whose condition is not serious and life-threatening.”

Making the right healthcare choice this season:

  • Flu vaccination – it’s not too late to protect yourself. People aged 65 and over, those living with long term health conditions and some young children are entitled to a free flu vaccination. If you have an underlying health condition you are more susceptible to flu and if you catch it you are more likely to end up in hospital. Contact your GP practice and get protected
  • Be prepared - having a well-stocked medicine cabinet means you will be able to self care at home and deal with minor injury and illness that you or your family might suffer. Consider having a stock of paracetamol, anti-diarrhoeal medicine, rehydration mixture, indigestion remedy and plasters. Ask your pharmacist for advice
  • NHS 111 - this is a free-to-call service which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Trained advisors can offer urgent help and advice on the health of you and your family
  • Your local pharmacy - many pharmacies have late night and weekend opening. A pharmacist can offer you a great deal of help and advice on the best over-the-counter medication for your condition. Keep a note of the opening hours of your nearest pharmacy and remember some pharmacies will be open on Christmas Day, Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th December and Monday 2nd January. Usual Sunday opening hours apply on Sunday 1st January. See list of pharmacies and opening times here.
  • Don’t wait -if you've had long term pain e.g. back ache - don't wait until it's late at night or a public holiday until you do something about it. Make an appointment with your local GP practice – GP practices will be open usual hours except Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th December and Monday 2ndJanuary
  • Repeat prescription - remember to make sure you have enough repeat medication to last over the holidays. It normally takes 48 hours for your GP practice to process a repeat prescription and bear in mind when GP practices are closed.

Find out more about keeping healthy and well over winter at www.nhs.uk/staywell