Solihull residents are being urged to help look after the NHS this winter by thinking carefully about whether they really need to visit A&E with minor illnesses and injuries.
Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is launching Choose Well 2014 this week, asking people to think twice about where they go to get treatment, rather than heading straight to A&E. The best option may be to stay at home to recover, to visit a pharmacy for treatment, to book a GP appointment, or to call NHS 111 for advice and signposting to a healthcare service. Click here to see the Solihull pharmacy rota for Christmas and New Year.
This comes after Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) statistics for 2012/13 revealed that almost one in two* people who visited accident and emergency with an illness or injury really didn't need to be there.
Solihull CCG chair Dr Anand Chitnis said: "A&E is for people with life-threatening injuries or illness. If you're not sure where to go, call NHS 111 for advice on what healthcare service you need."
HSCIC figures show that of the total 18.3 million accident and emergency attendances across England in 2012/13, 6.3 million people – 34.4 per cent - only required guidance or advice, while 2.3 million – 12.8 per cent - needed neither advice nor treatment. The total cost of treating these 8.6 million was almost £1billion, based on the average A&E visit bill being £114**.
If we are to protect local services for local people, we must all use the ones we have sensibly, otherwise they become unaffordable.
Dr Chitnis added: "Treating yourself – Self-Care – is often the best treatment for minor ailments, such as headaches, colds and flu, or minor injuries like muscle pulls and strains. Your local pharmacy is a great place to go for healthcare advice on many common conditions. And you might contact your GP if you're still experiencing symptoms of illness after a few days or if your symptoms are getting worse rather than better.
"But remember, your doctor can't treat viruses such as colds, flu or sickness bugs with antibiotics – the best management for these is bed rest, plenty of fluid and by using over-the-counter medication, such as paracetamol."
If you have a child under five who becomes unwell with a high temperature, you should seek advice sooner from your GP or NHS111.
For more advice, visit www.choosewellmidlands.nhs.uk, or visit Solihull CCG's website at www.solihullccg.nhs.uk.
-services for a population of 238,000 Solihull residents. It is made up of 32 GP practices.