GPs across Lancashire and South Cumbria are continuing to see more patients than ever as they prepare for what is expected to be a very tough winter.
Winter is always the most challenging time of year for the NHS, with staff facing significant pressure on many fronts, and this year is anticipated to be particularly difficult following an extremely busy summer.
Despite the pressures, GP practices in Lancashire and South Cumbria are providing more appointments than at pre-pandemic levels, and more than the national average.
Dr Lindsey Dickinson, associate medical director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), which plans and buys health services for the region, said: “Typically the demands on the NHS ease significantly in the warmer months, but that never really happened this summer.
“Some of the pressure is still being felt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as patients seek help for things that they have been putting off and long COVID also being prevalent across the region. Of course, COVID-19 is still present, too, so we have continued to provide care in line with national guidance, which can take more time, while also supporting the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to local residents.
“Despite this, we are still offering face-to-face appointments to every patient who needs one and are doing so at record levels that are now higher than they were in 2019.
“General practice and the NHS as a whole is facing potentially the toughest winter in its history, and we are asking people to think about which service is right for them.
“All our practices remain open and are contactable via the usual channels. However, we do ask that people utilise the full range of services available in the community, such as pharmacies for minor ailments and illnesses, as well as any queries about prescription or over-the-counter medicines. If you need urgent medical attention then urgent treatment centres can help with most non-life threatening medical problems.”
If you are unsure which service can help with your urgent problem, visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111 to be directed to the most appropriate service – and, of course, visit A&E or call 999 in any life-threatening emergencies.