HEALTH chiefs are urging St Helens residents to think twice before visiting their GP or dialling 999 this winter.
With extra pressure on A&E services during the coldest months of the year, health bosses want residents to choose well when suffering from a minor ailment.
Dr Steve Cox said: “This year more than any other we are asking people for their support to make sure we can give urgent and emergency care to those people who need it.
“We need people to think twice and make sure they choose the right service for minor illnesses, ailments and injuries.
“A number of these 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 deal with most minor illnesses and ailments over the winter – although it is important to telephone your GP if your symptoms fail to improve after 48 hours.
“Staying at home and self-treating until you are free from symptoms is important in preventing the further spread of these viruses.”
Another way people can prepare for winter is to make sure they get the seasonal flu vaccination.
Seasonal flu affects everyone, and those with heart disease, asthma and diabetes – of any age – are particularly susceptible to complications.
Dr Cox added: “Seasonal flu can be potentially life-threatening in certain patients and will generally require two weeks of recovery time. “Those at greater risk of complications such as pneumonia should visit their local surgery to protect themselves in the months ahead.”
Contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 with any health questions or your pharmacist for common winter illnesses. Patients should contact their GP for illnesses they can’t shake off and try to only dial 999 in critical or life-threatening situations.