Do you know which NHS service to use when you are unwell?
NHS East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has published information to help residents understand the various NHS services available – day and night.
The poster was initially created with patients and GP practice staff. This has been further developed after the Big Conversation, where we heard from over 2,300 people across East Berkshire about Urgent Care services. One common feedback thread was that residents needed more guidance around accessing the most appropriate NHS service.
The public said we needed to spend time creating awareness of NHS services, and this leaflet is part of that drive.
The information can be used to work out the best place to get advice or treatment when you are unwell. By following the expert advice of NHS staff, you can help your local NHS help you stay well; prevent an illness getting worse; and take the best course of action to feel well again.
Winter is always a busy time for the health service. If people go to the right service, it helps the NHS to work at its best and be there for those who really need it. That is why we are asking you to “help us, help you”.
Sarah Bellars, Director of Nursing, NHS East Berkshire CCG said: “Winter is always a challenging time of year for health services and this year will be no exception.
“To prepare for winter, the local NHS introduces targeted schemes to manage additional demand including evening and weekend appointments bookable through your GP surgery. We work with partners to prevent admissions to hospital, by ensuring people at risk are looked after in their homes and quickly get the specialist care they need. Also, having additional staff to help people leave hospital when they are ready to go home, minimising delays to discharge.
“Feedback from local residents is that if they don’t get an appointment at a GP surgery, they are not sure where to go next. Children, in particular, are taken to urgent care centres or accident and emergency when they could be seen in an out-of-hospital setting, and therefore exposed to fewer unwell people. To help residents make informed decisions about accessing the NHS, this new poster highlights the whole range of options available locally. “Help us, help you” by visiting the most appropriate service, and helping the NHS to work at its best to be there for those who really need it.
“With an ever growing and ageing population, the NHS is seeing and treating more people than ever. In winter months, flu, norovirus, and respiratory problems means many frail and vulnerable people get sicker. This leads to more people being admitted in an emergency which has a big impact on hospitals. These are the people that need the additional care and support from hospital services. I would urge people to help us by helping themselves to stay well this winter and to use the most appropriate service if they do become unwell.”
Many minor illnesses and injuries can be dealt with away from hospitals, with shorter waiting times. For example, your local pharmacist can offer you free, qualified health advice, and no appointment is necessary. From coughs and colds to aches and pains, they can give you expert help on everyday illnesses and answer questions about prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.
If you need to speak to a clinician, need reassurance or don’t know where to go, call NHS 111. You will be directed to the most appropriate service or, be given an appointment to see a clinician if needed. The call is free of charge and the service is available 24 hours a day. This means no lengthy waits in hospital waiting rooms with other potentially unwell people.
If you do need to be seen in general practice outside of normal working hours, additional appointments with GPs and other healthcare professionals during evenings and weekends are available across East Berkshire. All you have to do is call your GP surgery to book an appointment. Please note that these appointments need to be pre-booked in advance as the service cannot accept walk-in patients. They are also in addition to some local GP practices offering in-house extended hours appointments for their patients. More details can be found here.
Everyone has a role to play in keeping themselves healthy, and the NHS can provide the information and advice you need to stay well. Visit nhs.uk/staywell