New NHS campaign to help people stay well this winter

Doctors are launching a campaign to urge patients in Bradford and Airedale to look after their health this winter and get the right NHS treatment if they are ill.

The winter campaign – which starts on 25 November – focuses on helping people to make the right choices about which health services they use over the winter. It also provides a range of useful information about how people can help themselves to stay well over the coming months.

The NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in West Yorkshire have joined together to fund the campaign so that as many people as possible across the region get the messages. It will use radio adverts, a new winter health website, and a range of awareness raising information for the public.

Demand on emergency services increases dramatically at this time of year, so it is important that patients stop and think: does this injury or illness really need emergency treatment?

Many people who attend hospital A&E departments don’t really need to go to hospital - they could be treated more quickly by their GP, their local pharmacist who can offer advice on common illnesses and the best medicine to treat them, or even by themselves with basic self-care, first aid and advice.

Radio adverts will be aired on stations across the region, backed up by a new website – www.nhsstaywell.org – which will be an easy-to-access resource for people who want more information to help them make the right choice.

The main topics covered include: not using A&E when you don’t need it; stocking your medicine cabinet; repeat prescriptions for long-term conditions; and using the symptom checker on www.nhs.uk. Additional messages about staying safe in icy conditions, the importance of hand washing to keep bugs at bay; and avoiding accidents after a night out will also feature.

Dr Aamer Khan, urgent care lead for Bradford City CCG, said: “We want people to stay well this winter, but if they do get ill the campaign gives them all the information they need to get the right treatment, even if that’s self-care, so that our accident and emergency service is left for those people who really need it.”

“We need to make sure that everyone knows about the range of NHS services that they can use if they fall ill this winter,” added Dr Andy Withers, clinical chair at Bradford Districts CCG. “If you use an alternative to A&E when you aren’t seriously ill, it could mean that you end up waiting for less time to receive care.

“This will also leave emergency services to devote time to helping those with life-threatening and emergency conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes and serious injuries."
Dr Colin Renwick, clinical chair at Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG, said: “Many people don’t realise how much time and money they cost the local NHS when they misuse A&E services. A&E is for accident and emergency cases only, such as severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, significant head injuries and broken bones.

“We urge people to take care this winter and only come to a hospital A&E department if it is a medical emergency.”

There are many different ways that people can get help themselves get the right treatment and allow busy NHS services to help the people who need them most.

The options are:

• Self care – look after yourself at home with a well-stocked medicine cabinet
• Pharmacist (chemist) – for expert advice on common illnesses and the best medicines to treat them
• GP (Doctor) – for illnesses that just won’t go away, arrange to see your doctor
• Call 111 – if you need urgent healthcare, contact NHS 111 which will help you access the local service that can help you best
• A&E or 999 – only if you need very urgent medical attention.