Health bosses in Bolton are urging people to know where to go for medical help, advice and treatment this winter.
The winter months are typically the hardest for NHS organisations, GPs and social care providers, with A&E departments and hospitals experiencing significant pressure on services.
To remind local residents of the options available to them and help guide them through the winter months, NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group has launched a campaign which will run into early 2019.
The campaign covers three main themes and will highlight to residents that their local pharmacist can help with a range of minor health concerns; their GP practice can point people to the right service at the right time – no matter what time of day or night – and that there are precautionary measures people can take to help prepare for potential illness.
Chairman of Bolton CCG, Wirin Bhatiani, said: “This is such a busy time of year for health and care professionals and together with our partners, we work hard to try and mitigate the impact on our A&E which is meant for serious injuries and life-threatening conditions.
“We acknowledge that people fall ill, more so in the winter, and the NHS is there to help but there are a number of services in place which can help prevent an unnecessary trip to A&E.
“For instance, there is access available to see a GP near you where routine appointments are available in the evening and at weekends. Plus, if you need urgent care in the middle of the night, Bolton has an out-of-hours GP service. Just phone your usual GP practice and you’ll be directed to the correct service.”
Patients are urged to note that this year, GP practices are open as normal on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (December 24 and 31) from 8am to 6.30pm.
Not all situations will require GP attention, and local pharmacists are qualified to treat minor health concerns.
Most have a separate consultation room so people can discuss their symptoms in private, and no appointment is needed.
In addition, many ailments can be treated at home so the message is to stock up on basic medication to tackle pain, indigestion, allergies, upset stomachs and coughs, colds and sore throats.
We’d appeal to the public to work with us and do what they can to keep themselves well over the winter months.
Andy Ennis, Chief Operating Officer, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Winter sees some of the busiest months for all our services, in the hospital and the community, and particularly A&E.
“We are more likely to see patients arriving at A&E with complex conditions exacerbated by the colder spell, which obviously impacts on the waiting times within our emergency department.
“We’d appeal to the public to work with us and do what they can to keep themselves well over the winter months, being conscious of eating and living well, keeping warm, seeking advice from their GP or pharmacist to get early help, so that we are better able to respond when someone is in extreme need with serious injury or illness or in crisis.”