Christmas presence of mind

THE festive season is now upon us and the local NHS in Sefton is offering residents advice on how to stay well this winter and avoid those nasty winter illnesses.

This time of the year can pose problems for our health and wellbeing, especially for those with a long-term condition and people aged over 65. Cold and wet weather, ice, snow and windy conditions all play their part in making existing health conditions worse and making people vulnerable to picking up winter illnesses such as colds, sore throats, asthma, norovirus and most commonly the flu.

Help is at hand though, by being prepared, thinking carefully and knowing how to Examine your Options in Sefton.

Dr Andy Mimnagh, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Everyone wants to enjoy themselves at this time of the year, but a winter bug can dampen any spirits.

“The best advice that I can offer is to be prepared. If you are entitled to a free flu vaccination then make sure you get it, visit your pharmacist to ensure that you have the right at home medication, order your repeat prescriptions using Patient Access well before the bank holiday rush and make sure that you have plenty of food stocked up at home, just in case we are visited by some nasty weather.

“It’s also really important to make sure that we look out for not only family and friends, but also for any elderly neighbours as well, those who may struggle to get out of the house this time of the year, to ensure that they have everything that they need.

“If you are unlucky and get poorly, knowing what to do and where to go for your specific medical need, will ensure that you have a speedy recovery.”

Dr Rob Caudwell, Southport GP and chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “It is vital to remember that the ambulance service and A&E should not be used as an alternative to your GP if your surgery is closed.

“If you or your children require medical assistance outside of normal surgery hours during a bank holiday, patients in Southport and Formby have access to a wide range of alternative health services available including GP out-of-hours services and pharmacists who are qualified to offer advice and treat common, everyday illnesses quickly and conveniently.”

For up-to-the-minute information on where to go if you fall ill during the bank holiday, visit your local CCGs websites, as well as their Twitter and Facebook pages, or visit Examine Your Options: www.examineyouroptions.info

Feeling Unwell? – Examine Your Options
Across the region there are a range of health services to support people if they feel unwell or have any health concerns. There are services which you may be unfamiliar with, but could be more appropriate and convenient for you depending on your specific issue.

Pharmacy Services
Several pharmacies will be open throughout the Christmas bank holiday period and the best way to find out which pharmacy is open and when, is to visit your CCGs website and check out their Twitter and Facebook pages for on the day updates.

Your local pharmacy can offer free, confidential and expert advice on a range of health issues. They can also help you to self-care and prepare for many common winter illnesses and offer advice on which medicines to keep in stock at home.

Whilst all pharmacies provide advice and treatment for a range of minor illnesses and ailments, a number in Sefton offer Care at the Chemist, which ensures our most vulnerable patients who don’t routinely pay for their prescriptions have free and easy access to over-the-counter medicines they may need without the need to see a doctor.

NHS.UK
You can find a wealth of trusted advice about hundreds of health conditions and details of GPs, pharmacies in your local area by visiting www.nhs.uk. This useful website also includes a handy symptom checker.

NHS 111
When you need medical help or advice fast, but it is not a 999 emergency, you can also call the NHS 111 service. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

If you need medical care for illnesses you cannot treat yourself, then your GP should be your next port of call.

Your Local GP
Your GP should be your first point of contact for non-emergency illnesses you can’t treat yourself. A GP will be available from 8am to 6.30pm weekdays (local GP practice times may vary). If you don’t have a GP, you can register with your local surgery.

If you’re not sure where this is, you can find out at: www.nhs.uk or call Healthwatch Sefton on 0800 206 1304.

To make an appointment to see an extended hours GP, contact your GP practice.

GP Out-of-Hours Service
If your local surgery is closed, you can still see a GP with the GP out-of-hours service; just call 111 and you can speak to a local GP over the phone or face to face if necessary.

It is very likely that you and your family will be seen and treated more quickly using the out-of-hours service than if you were waiting to see a doctor in A&E, especially at busy times.

For more information please visit  www.examineyouroptions.info

Walk-in Centre/Urgent Treatment
Sefton – Litherland Walk-in Centre is open 8am-8pm every day including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. No matter where you live in Sefton you can simply drop in – there is no need for an appointment and all ages can get treatment here. The service treats minor illnesses and injuries that do not need a visit to accident and emergency (A&E). Remember A&E is for serious and life threatening illnesses or injuries.

Litherland Walk-in Centre is based in Litherland Town Hall, Hatton Hill Rd, L21 9JN. Call 0151 475 4667.

West Lancashire – the Urgent Treatment Centre (formally referred to as the West Lancashire Walk-in Centre) is based at Ormskirk Hospital, Wigan Road, Ormskirk, L39 2AZ. This centre is open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, although over the Christmas and New Year bank holiday opening times will vary.

The staff within these centres, can treat minor injuries and minor ailments.

To access help, visit the respective centre that you would like to use and speak to the receptionist. Once you are booked in, you will be seen by a clinician who will decide how urgent your case is and you will be then be seen in priority order.

Patient Access
Manage your repeat prescriptions and make GP appointments from the comfort of your own home, without having to venture outside, by using the new FREE Patient Access website and smartphone app. Simply search for ‘Patient Access’ in the app store.

Remember though, if using Patient Access for the very first time, you will first have to contact your GP practice so that you can register to use the app.

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