People are being urged to choose the most appropriate service available when it comes to falling ill or being injured.
There are a number of NHS services people can use but experts have said that by choosing the service that best meets their needs, patients can get the advice or treatment they need quickly.
GP surgeries, pharmacies, NHS Walk-in Centres and NHS 111 can all give a wide range of professional advice and help.
Heather Moulder, Director of Nursing and Quality from NHS England, Hertfordshire and the South Midlands, said: “Accident and Emergency departments seem to be the default place for a lot of people when they need medical help, however, in most cases there are lots of other ways to access the NHS.
“If people are unsure which service they need, by simply phoning 111 they will be directed to the most appropriate place. Local pharmacies can give advice on common illnesses and provide advice on the most appropriate way to treat them. For persistent illnesses, people should make an appointment to see their GP. By using NHS services properly, A&E departments can be reserved for those in need of urgent, life saving care.
“By getting to the most appropriate place, when they first become aware of their symptoms, patients will give themselves the best chance of making a full recovery.”
NHS England has recently launched ‘The earlier, the better’ public awareness campaign, which is designed to encourage people to nip health problems in the bud and avoid unnecessary stays in hospital. The campaign is particularly targeting people aged over 60 years old and the friends and family of older people and urges people to visit their pharmacist for free and professional health advice.
As well as making sure people get to the most appropriate NHS service, NHS England is asking people to pledge to take time to be a winter friend and look in on an elderly friend, or neighbour, to make sure they are warm, coping well and have everything they need to deal with winter. To sign up please visit the NHS Choices website.