Cumbria NHS organisations ask public to think before calling 999 or attending A&E

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Cumbria NHS organisations ask public to think before calling 999 or attending A&E

Posted on Friday 19th December 2014

With NHS organisations across Cumbria coming under exceptional demand, local doctors, nurses and paramedics are asking the public to help them by thinking carefully about using other NHS services before calling 999 or going to their local A&E department.

Already the region’s North West Ambulance Service has raised its operational status to ‘severe pressure’ under a framework to protect core NHS services for the most vulnerable patients in the region.

Hospital trusts across the region are also experiencing increased pressures, with record numbers of people attending accident and emergency departments.

During winter months, the demand for NHS services increases significantly as cold weather means there are more slips, trips and injuries. Generally more people feel unwell during the winter as they spend more time indoors and coughs and colds are passed around the family, friends and colleagues at work.

In addition festive public holidays can, place additional pressure on specific parts of the system, such as orthopaedics, intensive care and paediatrics. This means more people having an accident or becoming unwell with a winter bug, and wanting to see their GP, attend accident and emergency or call 999.

For people who are normally fit and well, this might mean a cough or a cold which can be well treated at home. However for people with long term health conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) this can lead to serious breathing complications and admission into hospital placing pressure on the availability of beds.

Dr Andrew Brittlebank is the Medical Director for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, he explains that people with long term conditions such as COPD should take extra care this winter:

“For those with lung conditions, such as COPD, winter can cause extra complications but there are a few tips that can reduce the risk of their condition getting worse during the cold snaps. Things such as closing the windows at night; cold air entering the lungs can cause a flare-up and this is an often overlooked, but is a very effective measure against them.  Also aim to keep your main living and sleeping rooms heated at the optimum temperature for healthy lungs: between 18-21°C .

It is important that those with COPD get their free flu jab at their local surgery and while you are there it is a good idea to arrange a ‘self-management plan’ and a course of ‘stand by’ antibiotics and steroids with your surgery, so that if your symptoms deteriorate you can, with advice from your GP, treat the flare-up promptly, minimising its effects. If you are concerned your symptoms are deteriorating, call your GP for advice sooner rather than delaying. Flare -ups are best treated early to prevent them from developing into severe conditions requiring hospital admission.”

NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group has systems and processes in place to monitor and manage the pressures across health and social care organisations who are working together to manage this situation.

Whilst these systems and processes help in pressure prevention planning, Cumbria’s NHS staff are asking the public to help them ensure vital services are available for patients who need them the most by thinking carefully about alternative local NHS services they could use instead of calling 999 or going to the accident and emergency department.

Speaking on behalf of the region’s Dr David Rogers, NHS Cumbria CCG’s Medical Director, said: “We are asking the public to help us ensure that NHS services are available for people who need them most. We want the public to think about what other local NHS services might be better placed to help them, allowing 999 and A&E stay free for those in need of emergency care.

“Most normally healthy people with a winter illness do not need to see their GP, do not need to attend A&E and absolutely do not need to call 999.  Colds, sore throats, head-aches, hangovers, upset stomachs, coughs, aches, pains, and winter vomiting could all be treated at home with pain killers, rest and plenty of fluids. If you are still concerned then seek the advice of your local pharmacist or GP.

“By doing this the public will help reduce the spread of winter viruses to other vulnerable patients in NHS waiting rooms and keep appointments available for people who have serious health conditions who must see a doctor or nurse, or have severe or life threatening conditions that need emergency care immediately.

“We really need the help of those people who do not need to call 999 or go to A&E, to help our doctors, nurses and paramedics so they can provide the very best care they can to those who need it most this Christmas.”

If someone has an injury or ailment which is not an emergency, they can call Cumbria Health on Call (CHoC) on03000 247 247, or seek help from their GP, pharmacist or local walk-in or urgent centre.

Advice on how to treat a range of common winter conditions by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home or speaking to yo ur local pharmacist is available at keepcalmthiswinter.org.uk|or @keepcalmne|.

Posted on Friday 19th December 2014

 

 
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