Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals who can advise on a wide range of health and care issues and many minor illnesses or injuries can be treated with over-the-counter medication. Many pharmacies have longer opening hours, including weekends, and people can drop in for advice without the need to book an appointment.
GPs are reminding people who may start to feel unwell to check their symptoms using the online NHS symptoms checker which can be found on the NHS Choices website – www.nhs.uk. People are also encouraged to use the NHS Choices website for up to date information on a range of illnesses. The website also has a services finder to help people find the most appropriate local service nearest to them.
If people need urgent help, but it’s not a 999 emergency, call NHS 111 for advice and direction to the most appropriate service. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls are free.
People are urged only to go to their local A&E department or dial 999 in critical or life-threatening situations. For example:
- loss of consciousness
- fits that are not stopping
- persistent, severe chest pain (possible signs of a heart attack)
- severe breathing difficulties
- severe bleeding that can't be stopped
- slurred speech, a face that droops on one side, or weakness or numbness on one side of the body (possible signs of a stroke)
In the case of heart attack or stroke, call 999 immediately. Every second counts with these conditions.
Dr Dave Tatham, clinical lead for urgent and emergency care at the three local CCGs, said: “It is important that local people know where to go if they are unwell, so that they can receive the best possible treatment in the quickest time for their condition."
“There are many services that are easy to access and give people help and advice; NHS Choices and local pharmacies are a great place to start. It’s also good to have a well-stocked medicine cupboard at home for self-care. Having home remedies to hand can mean peace of mind. If you are unsure what to have in your medicine cupboard please check the NHS Choices website for more information.”
“It’s also important to look out for others over winter, especially people who are aged 65 or older and those with long term conditions such as asthma who could be at risk over any cold snaps too. Please make sure you, or vulnerable people you know, have enough food and medicines in stock, and are able to keep yourselves warm."
“If you have respiratory or heart conditions like COPD, asthma or emphysema and are concerned about how to keep well in the cold weather, then speak to your nurse or GP.”