With winter fast approaching, health leaders in Lancashire and South Cumbria are asking patients to ensure they understand which NHS service is best for them.
The NHS has a number of different services available and with winter pressures building up, it’s important that patients know where they can go.
Unfortunately, many people go to A&E when they could be seen at a pharmacy, a GP surgery or an Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC).
Dr David Levy, chief medical director of NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) said: “It can sometimes be confusing when trying to understand which NHS service is the best one for you.
“You should only go to A&E if your condition is an emergency or is life-threatening.
“If you’re not sure where the best place to go is, then you can use NHS 111 online or call them, and you’ll be directed to a service based on the answers you provide.”
A lot of the time patients can be seen and treated at an Urgent Treatment Centre.
Dr Levy said: “People don’t always realise that X-rays are available at some Urgent Treatment Centres. When you’re there you will be treated for a possible broken bone or have that ruled out.”
Regarding GP care, it’s important to remember that it isn’t only GPs who are qualified to see and treat you. Seeing a nurse, pharmacist or another health expert within general practice can prevent unnecessary delays and ensure you get the right care.
Dr Levy added: “GP receptionists don’t just handle phone calls; they are trained care navigators, helping patients to get the right care with the right person.
“Every primary care network now offers evening and weekend appointments. Primary care networks are groups of local practices in a small area - you may be asked to go to a different practice but it won’t be far away.”
If you’re struggling with your mental health, then our mental health crisis line is available 24/7 on 0800 953 0110. They’ll be able to provide support in the moment as well as signpost and refer to further services.
To find your nearest Urgent Treatment Centre visit https://www.lancashireandsouthcumbria.icb.nhs.uk/our-work/your-local-services/urgent-care.