WOULD you know what to do if you felt unwell when your GP practice was closed – but you didn’t feel bad enough to go to A&E?

Following a recent public consultation, the NHS is launching a local campaign to remind people to call NHS111 to be directed to the most appropriate care.

NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group were told that people found the services confusing, and that they were unsure what to do during evening and weekends when their GP was closed.

Dr Stewart Findlay, Chief Officer at the CCG said: “When people feel unwell but their GP is closed, we know they are confused about what services are available; sometimes they go to A&E which is only for life-threatening emergencies and this puts pressure on the NHS system. We want people to know what to do to help themselves and the NHS.  You can help us help you get the right medical attention urgently.”

The advice is this:

During the day if you feel unwell think GP first

Call your GP practice between 8am – 6pm.  If you have a same-day health need which is not a life-threatening emergency, they may offer you an urgent appointment if available or, based on your clinical need, book you into one of the extended access hubs which are open until 8pm on weekdays.

If you feel unwell after 6pm or during the weekend call NHS111

When you call 111 you will speak to a trained health adviser from the local NHS111 team.  They will ask questions to assess you, and determine the most appropriate place for you to receive the care you need.  Based on your clinical need, they can book appointments at Urgent Treatment Centres and in some cases at GP practices.

For more minor ailments, your Pharmacist can help

The NHS want you to go to your pharmacy for ailments like diarrhoea, runny nose, coughs, hangovers and headaches.  Pharmacists can also help with general health and wellbeing, and stopping smoking, and some are open until 11pm.

 Dr Findlay said: “The NHS belongs to us all. Let’s use it responsibly so we can develop and invest in local services to make the NHS fit for the future.”

The Northern Echo: