Winter is always a busy time for the NHS, so to ensure you can get help from the right health service as quickly as possible, local NHS services would like you to know the key things to remember.
The NHS website is the best place to start for general health advice: www.nhs.uk. It features up-to-date health information about a range of symptoms and information about services.
If you need more advice in person, then speak to your local pharmacist. They are experts in medicines and minor illnesses. You don’t need an appointment, just pop in. They are always happy to help and answer any questions you may have. They also know which symptoms need to be seen by a GP. Many pharmacies are open late nights and at the weekend, which is convenient for people who work or when the doctor’s surgery is closed.
If you do need the help of your local GP surgery, they are there for you. Alongside GPs and practice nurses, there are a range of trained professionals like pharmacists, paramedics and physiotherapists working in your practice. When you contact your local practice through an online form or on the phone give all the details you can and staff will ensure you see or speak to the right person for your needs.
You can also help your practice by using the online form on your practice website or the NHS app to order your repeat prescriptions. Make sure you get the requests in in plenty of time for weekends, Christmas and any bank holidays. Ideally the last day to get in your request is Monday 12 December. Allow up to five working days before you need medicines. You may even be able to tick for a repeat at your regular pharmacy, meaning you just need to make a note in your diary for when to pick up your next lot of medication. No extra work needed!
If you have an urgent illness or injury that isn’t life or limb threatening and are not sure where to go, go online to www.111.nhs.uk or call 111. They can arrange the right help for you. That could be at a pharmacy, an appointment with a GP or practice nurse, or they can book you in to a minor injuries unit or urgent care centre.
Dr Jane Halpin, Chief Executive of the NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board, said: ‘Use your NHS wisely this winter and support our staff to continue doing an amazing job every day. Choosing the right service for your symptoms means that our busy emergency departments remain available for people with very serious health problems. If you have a minor illness or injury, there are better places for you than A&E. Pharmacies are your route to fast advice about medicines or minor illness and NHS 111 is here for you 24 hours a day if you need health help urgently. Thank you to all our residents for playing their part to help the NHS be there for everybody this winter.’
Services to support you this winter in Hertfordshire can be found at hertsandwestessexics.org.uk/help-us-help.