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The NHS in East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen is still reminding people they can do more than they think to stay well

NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust want to help ease pressure on A&E and urgent care from inappropriate visits and to remind people about a range of other services available for them to access to help them stay well and healthy.

Unfortunately more people are attending urgent services when it is unnecessary and they could be better treated elsewhere. We know people are often poorly when they come to the hospital but there are other places they can get help and often don’t know. Making an avoidable visit to the emergency department takes hospital teams away from their role which is to help those with life threatening situations. This includes conditions such as loss of consciousness; persistent, severe chest pain; breathing difficulties and severe bleeding that cannot be stopped.

Dr Zaki Patel, Clinical Lead for Urgent Care at NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG, said: “Many of the common winter ailments and illnesses people come down with at this time of year can be easily treated at home or with advice from a pharmacist without the need to see a doctor or nurse.

“Colds, sore throats, coughs, upset stomachs, aches, pains and headaches can all be treated at home with painkillers, rest and plenty of fluids. Self-care should often be the first port of call in these instances, but help and advice for such illnesses can be sought from elsewhere should people require it. This helps reduce the spread of winter viruses to other vulnerable patients in NHS waiting rooms as well as keeping appointments available for people who have serious health conditions that must see a doctor or nurse.”

Dr David White, Clinical Lead for Urgent Care at NHS East Lancashire CCG, said: “The demand on our emergency departments is increasing putting added pressure on the service. This means it is essential that everyone thinks carefully about which is the right NHS service for them. There are often better alternatives than sitting in urgent care for hours on end which can help people get the right treatment more easily and quicker.

“We obviously aren’t telling people who are in need of urgent medical attention not to attend our emergency departments but ask people to consider whether they actually need to go or could be seen and treated elsewhere.

“Pharmacists, the NHS 111 service and the NHS Choices website are all excellent alternatives that people can contact should they need any advice on things such as coughs, colds, vomiting and minor ailments. Pharmacists are experts in medicine and can offer expert help with common complaints and advise when symptoms are more serious that a GP visit maybe necessary.”

Alternatively the NHS 111 service is a free-to-call non-emergency medical helpline offering health advice and information service which people may wish to use as the first point of contact with NHS services. The 111 adviser will be able to:

• decide what medical help you need
• tell you where you need to go to get this medical help
• transfer your call to the service you need, or book an appointment for you with the GP Out of Hours service if necessary