Accessing healthcare this Christmas - The importance of choosing the right service

Thursday, 16 December 2010
Guidance for patients on accessing the right healthcare service over the Christmas and New Year period has been issued today.
Forecasts of severe weather conditions mean that frontline services could come under additional pressure increasing the importance of patients choosing the most appropriate service for their needs, rather than just turning up at Emergency Department (A&E) or calling an ambulance.
 
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust today joined forces to help people choose well.
Dr Jewell said: "The full range of health services are of course still available for everyone who need them, but it is important that people go to the right place.
"By choosing well patients will receive the best and quickest care, leaving emergency services able to help those who need them most, especially at a time when weather conditions could be a factor.
 
"Anecdotal evidence shows that some people turn up at the Emergency Department with minor injuries or conditions such as a small cut to the finger, when they could have been treated elsewhere or even at home.
 
"It is also important that you know the opening hours of your GP and pharmacists, especially if you take regular medication. Check now that you have enough to last over Christmas, and also in case bad weather hits and you are unable to get out.
 
"If you are feeling unwell and you are not sure what to do, in the first instance log on to the website (www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk) or call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 and speak to a nurse adviser for information and advice, available 24 hours a day, every day. "
 
Welsh Ambulance Service Chairman Stuart Fletcher said: "At this time of year we experience increases in 999 call workload, especially within towns and cities. To ensure that people who need urgent medical care get it as quickly as possible, we are encouraging those who don't need an ambulance to use the other services available to them.
"Please remember before you dial 999 that sending an ambulance to a call that is not an emergency could delay the response to a seriously ill or injured patient, and patients with minor illnesses or injuries who arrive at hospital by ambulance do not receive faster treatment.
 
"The Trust is also keeping a close eye on the weather forecast and has contingency plans in place for adverse weather. This includes provision of 4x4 vehicles, and working with other other emergency services, to ensure we are able to reach patients in snowy and icy conditions."
 
Press advertisements will be issued listing common symptoms and the most appropriate response or service to access in the first place.  Local Health Boards across Wales will also be providing detailed local information online.
 
"The Trust is also keeping a close eye on the weather forecast and has contingency plans in place for adverse weather. This includes provision of 4x4 vehicles, and working with other other emergency services, to ensure we are able to reach patients in snowy and icy conditions."
 
Press advertisements will be issued listing common symptoms and the most appropriate response or service to access in the first place.  Local Health Boards across Wales will also be providing detailed local information online.
 
Flu like symptoms?
Unwell? Unsure?
Need Help?
NHS Direct
Hangover. Grazed Knee.
Sore Throat. Cough.
Self Care
Diarrhoea. Runny Nose.
Upset Stomach. Headache.
Pharmacist
Vomiting. Ear Pain.
Painful Cough. Toothache.
GP, Out of Hours Services
or Dental Service
Cuts. Bites. Sprains.
Minor Injuries Unit
Choking. Chest Pain. Blacking Out.
Blood Loss. Serious Injury.
Emergency Department
(A&E) or 999
 
For those people celebrating and socialising in city centres, the ambulance service will also be working with local police and running triage centres to take pressure of emergency resources. This will allow minor conditions which do not require hospital treatment to be treated at the centre by paramedics.
 
Cardiff
 
Emergency medical service staff will be manning triage units on December 17 and December 23.
 
The Trust will once again will closely with other agencies such as St John Ambulance to use the Millennium Stadium as a medical centre and intoxicated patient holding area on New Year's Eve.
 
Swansea
 
The Swansea Triage Centre will be operational on December 17, 18 and New year's Eve in Swansea's centre, and a mobile triage centre will be operating in the City Centre near Wind Street.
 
Newport, Blackwood and Rhondda Cynon Taff
 
Emergency medical service staff will be manning triage units on December 17 and December 23.
 
North Wales
 
Extra Welsh Ambulance Service staff will be on duty in North Wales and a partnership with police in Wrexham will be utilised to coordinate resources efficiently and safely in the town during the busiest nights.
Share:  Share this page on Twitter  Share this page in Facebook  Save this page in delicious  Digg this page.  Save this page in LinkedIn  Stumble this page.  Save this page in reddit.com