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Use your NHS wisely this Christmas

NHS needs your help to ensure services are available for those most in need.

People in Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven are being asked not to go to Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments unless they have a serious or life-threatening condition.

NHS Airedale Wharfedale and Craven, Bradford Districts and Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are asking people to choose wisely when it comes to deciding which health service to use.

A&E departments and emergency services are particularly busy over the Christmas and New Year period and often are not the best place to receive treatment quickly, unless you are experiencing a serious or life-threatening condition. Those attending A&E will be triaged and then cared for in order of severity, so if you do attend for something that isn’t an emergency, you could find you’re in for a wait.

Many patients that are using A&E departments have minor injuries that could have been treated more appropriately at an alternative NHS service such as a pharmacy, or in some cases only need self-care.

Airedale A&E

Dr David Tatham, GP and clinical lead for urgent and emergency care at the CCGs said: “Our hospitals and A&E departments are under severe pressures at this time of year and we need to make sure that only the people who need emergency medical help attend there.

“The teams at Bradford Royal Infirmary and Airedale General Hospital have worked incredibly hard over the festive period to provide high quality patient care, but we can all do our bit to make sure emergency services such as the ambulance service and our A&E departments are there for those people most in need.

“Most common winter ailments will get better on their own and there is no prescribed medication to make them go away any quicker. If you need advice you can visit the NHS Choices website – – or visit your local pharmacy or GP. Pharmacists are highly trained and can provide friendly, expert advice on common health conditions such as diarrhoea, a runny nose or a painful cough or headache. You do not need an appointment to visit a pharmacist and they can provide useful information on over-the-counter medicines.

“If you need urgent medical help but it’s not a life-threatening emergency, you can call NHS 111 who can provide advice and information. Calls are free and lines are open 24/7, 365 days-a-year.

“Similarly, 999 is for life-threatening emergencies only and arriving at hospital by ambulance will not mean you will be seen more quickly; you will be triaged like all other patients and then seen according to the severity of your condition. Please only dial 999 for an ambulance in a life-threatening emergency.”

Most healthy people with a bad cold or flu 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, headaches, hangovers, upset stomachs, coughs, aches, pains, and winter vomiting should all be treated at home or with the help and advice of your local pharmacist or with painkillers, rest and plenty of fluids. The NHS Choices website also has lots of useful advice to help people manage their own health.

Dr Tatham added: “Avoiding attending A&E or dialling 999 when it’s not necessary not only means you are you helping to reduce the spread of bugs to other vulnerable patients, you are also keeping ambulances, beds and appointments available for people who have serious health conditions, or have severe or life-threatening conditions that need emergency care immediately.”

To find your nearest GP surgery or pharmacy, visit the NHS Choices website.

To find out more about how you can care for yourself or someone at home who has a common illness this winter, such as a cough or cold, visit the NHS Stay Well website.  

Some pharmacies are open over bank holidays and weekends. For a list of opening times please visit the CCGs’ websites: Bradford Districts CCG, Bradford City CCG or Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG

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