NHS chiefs who plan and buy healthcare for 204,000 people have launched a drive to make sure that patients know about the range of services available to them if they fall ill or have an injury.
Winter is the busiest time of year for NHS hospitals, particularly for accident and emergency departments, yet people are often unaware that there are other services that can provide expert advice and treatment, often with shorter waiting times.
Dr Paul Bowen, clinical chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group and GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton said: “People often aren’t aware of the other members of the NHS team that are available to help them.
“The local NHS has a number of services which can help with common complaints such as backache, coughs, colds and sore throats.
“For example, community pharmacies are available seven days a week so that people can get the help they need quickly and easily without having to wait.
“Pharmacists are highly-qualified health professionals who can give advice and treatment for a wide range of conditions including stomach upsets and flu symptoms.
Dr Darren Kilroy, A&E consultant at Macclesfield District General Hospital, run by East Cheshire NHS Trust, said: “A&E departments are the best place for emergency cases such as heart attacks, strokes and serious injuries.
“Patients with conditions like these will always be prioritised, which means less serious cases may need to wait longer.”
The NHS Choices website, www.nhs.uk, has information about a wide range of services, which can be searched by entering your postcode.
“If you are in doubt about what to do, you can always call NHS 111, which will direct you to the most appropriate service.”
NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG represents 23 GP practices which together plan and buy healthcare for 206,000 people in and around Alderley Edge, Bollington, Chelford, Congleton, Disley, Handforth, Holmes Chapel, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Poynton and Wilmslow.
For more information on winter health, go to: www.nhs.uk/winterhealth