Dr Mark Hunt, Managing Director of Health Care at Care UK, is offering advice on how to stave off illness as well as informing people of the quickest way to get treatment if they do get ill now or over the festive season. Care UK operates a number of GP led health centres, walk in centres and urgent care centres on behalf of the NHS.
Dr Hunt said: “The plummeting temperatures usually mean a lot more people will be visiting their doctors whether they’re suffering from cold and flu viruses or incurred an injury from the icy conditions.
“With the variety of different health services available, we want to ensure people know where they should go and what services are available to them now and over the festive season.
“Often people don’t realise they can benefit from much shorter waiting times by using the right NHS service. For example many minor ailments and injuries can be dealt with at a NHS walk-in centre, urgent care Centre or minor injuries unit, where patients can just turn up without an appointment, meaning they can be seen much more quickly than in traditional A&E departments.”
Dr Hunt added: “We are reminding patients that many of our services will be running over the Christmas holidays, so they can make an appointment to visit their GP, or visit one of our walk-in services for immediate care if the problem can’t wait.”
Dr Hunt, who is also a GP in Somerset offered this advice to people:
- Make sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked
- Don’t forget that you can visit your local pharmacy for advice
- Get your repeat prescriptions on time so you have enough in stock if you are unable to travel during the extreme weather conditions
- Know your GP surgery opening times over the festive period
- Protect yourself from the cold with lots of light layers of clothing and drinking plenty of warm fluids.
- Look out for elderly neighbours who are more vulnerable in the winter months and contact their carer if they need assistance
- If you have an illness that will not go away and symptoms persist after seeking advice from your local pharmacy, contact your GP to make an appointment
- If you can’t get an appointment with your usual GP, are away from home or aren’t registered with a GP and need to see a doctor urgently, go to your nearest NHS Walk-in service, Urgent Care Centre or Minor Injuries Unit, which are usually open every day and provide a convenient service with no appointment necessary.
- If you need assistance Out-of-Hours you should call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or call your regular GP and you will be automatically transferred to the Out of Hours Service or contact your local Out-of-Hours service directly.
- If the harsh weather conditions cause you to trip or fall and you suffer a sprain, cut or graze, consider visiting your local Walk-in service, Urgent Care Centre or Minor Injury Unit rather than A&E; as the hospital has to prioritise life threatening conditions, you’re likely to be treated quicker at one of the walk-in services.