NHS urges patients not to flock to A&E with minor winter-time illnesses

PUBLISHED: 16:07 27 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:10 27 November 2017

The CCGs want to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions.

The CCGs want to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions.

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A NHS campaign has been launched which is designed to ensure hospitals and GP surgeries can cope with added demand over the winter period.

The Stay Well This Winter initiative aims to advise patients where is the best place to seek treatment or medication if they are suffering from any ailments.

With colds and flu more common at this time of year, the NHS often sees A&E services receive a lot more patients, even though in many cases that is not the best place for them to seek help.

The three South West clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire – are working hard to alleviate that problem.

Dr Peter Goyder, speaking on behalf of the CCGs, said: “Winter is traditionally a challenging time for health services and this year will be no exception.

“However we have robust plans in place to manage demand and we’re working closely with local authorities and charities to make sure we are doing everything possible to keep people out of hospital and help them return home promptly following an inpatient stay.”

MORE: Hospital ward closures after norovirus detected at Weston General.

In winter months, flu, norovirus, and respiratory problems mean many frail and vulnerable people suffer illnesses more frequently.

But the CCGs believe good preparation ahead of the coldest months can mean the chances of catching an illness is reduced or their effects can be minimised.

Free flu vaccines, for instance, are available for young children and older people and can be given at GP surgeries.

The CCGs also recommend people use their local pharmacies more when they start feeling the early effects of a cold to make sure it does not develop into anything more serious.

Other tips include making sure patients have sufficient medication prescriptions to cope over the Christmas holidays and to ensure that homes are heated adequately.

Anyone who is unwell can also call the NHS on 111 at any time.

Neighbours are also encouraged to check on vulnerable people within their community to check on their wellbeing.

Dr Goyder said: “People can prepare (well) for winter by taking a few simple steps to keep themselves well and use the most appropriate service when they get ill.”

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