AS winter sets in and seasonal illnesses like flu, tummy bugs and colds begin to circulate the pressure on our emergency services increases.
NHS Wigan Borough CCG is asking people to consider using the free NHS 111 telephone health service to help access the right health services first time.
In most instances people don’t need A&E or 999 and the aim of NHS111 is to make it easy for patients to access healthcare advice when it is not a life-threatening situation but they need medical advice.
NHS111 is a free number available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The call handlers can provide health advice, put patients and carers in touch with the right service if needed, arrange to have them seen by a doctor or call an ambulance.
The service is manned by trained call handlers with nurses on site to offer support if needed.
Callers’ symptoms are assessed and they are given the healthcare advice they need or are directed immediately to the right service.
Dr Tim Dalton, a local GP and chairman of Wigan Borough CCG, said: “A&E and 999 must only be used for emergencies such as heavy blood loss, severe chest pains, loss of consciousness or broken bones.
“We ask the public to think carefully before they go to A&E or call 999, especially at Christmas and new year when these services need to be free to deal with the many real emergencies we face.
“For many minor health issues people need to consider using the NHS111 telephone service that will provide answers to health questions, reassurance, advice and support.
“It’s a free phone call that is convenient to use and is open around the clock every day of the year.
“Of course, you can also call your local GP practice or use the NHS out of hours service if you need help.”