HEALTH chiefs are urging St Helens residents to think twice before dialling 999 this winter.
Bosses at NHS Halton and St Helens are encouraging people to “Choose Well” when suffering from a minor ailment – to help reduce the seasonal pressure on A&E services.
The Choose Well campaign urges patients to use NHS Walk In centres for the treatment of minor illnesses or injuries or their GP for medical advice, examinations and prescriptions.
Pharmacists can also offer advice on many common winter illnesses – as well as the best medicines to treat them.
And, for any health questions, NHS Direct is available around the clock on 0845 46 47.
Dr Dympna Edwards, interim director of public health for NHS Halton and St Helens, (pictured above) said: “We need people to think twice and make sure they choose the right service for minor illnesses, ailments and injuries. There are a number of minor illnesses and ailments that can be self-treated. If you are a normally healthy adult, coughs, colds and stomach upsets such as sickness and diarrhoea are unpleasant, but you will begin to recover after 48 hours.
“Paracetamol, anti-diarrhoeal medicine, indigestion remedies, plasters and a thermometer will help adults to deal with most minor illnesses and ailments over the winter period, although it is important to follow instructions and call your GP surgery if your symptoms fail to improve after a couple of days.
“Staying at home and self-treating until you are free from symptoms for 48 hours are important to preventing further spread of these viruses.”
Another way that people can prepare for winter and reduce the risk of becoming ill is to make sure they get the seasonal flu vaccination.
Up to 15 per cent of us suffer from flu each winter and many of those at risk of developing serious complications from the virus do not take precautions to avoid catching it.
Local GPs offer free seasonal flu vaccinations to all of those in these high-risk groups as well as the elderly.
Dr Edwards added: “Those at greater risk of developing complications should visit their local surgery.”