As the busiest time of year for the NHS approaches, local GPs are encouraging people to treat themselves or seek help from a pharmacist for coughs and colds and minor illnesses. They are also reminding people about the range of health services available locally, and the importance of using them appropriately.
- People should remember to stock up their medicine cabinets and be prepared to treat themselves and their families for coughs and colds.
- Older people can be particularly vulnerable. They, their families, friends and carers should get early advice from a pharmacist to help stop minor illnesses becoming more serious.
- Coughs and sneezes in children can also usually be treated with medicines available from the pharmacist. More information for families with young children is set out in a new booklet 'Common childhood illnesses' available from GP surgeries and libraries.
- Accident and Emergency Departments are for life threatening conditions, not minor injuries and ailments which can be treated elsewhere
Clinical Commissioning Groups in Reading, Wokingham and Newbury are working together to spread the messages through radio advertising, posters, leaflets, conventional and social media. An App 'My Local NHS' is also available for people to download for more information from either Google+ for Android phones or the App Store for iPhones.
Emmer Green GP and Berkshire West CCG's Urgent Care Lead, Dr Andy Ciecierski said: "At the moment the Royal Berkshire Hospital's A&E Department is coping well and meeting its target of ensuring that 95% of patients are seen within four hours. This is a great achievement and I hope shows that the messages about using the NHS responsibly are beginning to be heard. We are also working closely with hospital, community and social care colleagues to make sure services are in place for those who do need them over the winter period, with a focus of helping to keep people out of hospital.
The majority of people who get ill over winter shouldn't need these services.
"Very often, with a bit of advice, people can effectively treat themselves or their families for a wide range of complaints from minor cuts and bruises through to headaches, stomach upsets and colds.
"There are many treatments available over the counter which can relieve the symptoms of many common complaints and we are urging people to consider these as an alternative to using other parts of the NHS."