Public can help ease pressure on the NHS this winter

Hospitals and the ambulance service are currently extremely busy.
Hospitals and the ambulance service are currently extremely busy.

Members of the public are being asked to ease the pressure on the NHS by only contacting the ambulance service if they have a life threatening or critical condition.

NHS chiefs are advising the public that hospitals and the ambulance service are currently extremely busy and are asking members of the public to only visit A&E or call 999 if they have a life threatening or critical condition.

People using these services for minor conditions can add to the pressures and take up valuable time needed to treat critical cases.

Local NHS organisations would like to encourage members of the public to consider other options when they are ill and it’s not an emergency, such as taking care of yourself at home, phoning NHS 111, visiting a local pharmacist for advice if you’re unsure about symptoms, or making an appointment with your GP.

A&E and 999 are for health emergencies only, including major accidents, broken bones, breathing problems, severe chest pains, unconsciousness, suspected stroke, and major blood loss.

Many ailments, such as colds, sore throats, upset stomachs, and winter vomiting, should be treated at home with pain killers, rest and plenty of fluids, or with the advice of your local pharmacist.

People can also visit their local NHS walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.

You can also call NHS 111 for advice on what to do. NHS 111 is the non-emergency telephone number that is being introduced to help make it easier for the public to access local health services when they need medical help fast, but it’s not a life-threatening emergency.

NHS 111 will signpost you to the most appropriate service, first time and is available 24/7, 365 days a year and is free to call from landlines and mobile phones.

So please play your part in ensuring services are used appropriately and thinking about the right service for you this winter.