Getting the right care first time – by Dr Miles Langdon

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It has been widely reported that strains on local health services across the country are an increasing concern for both the public and healthcare community.

It is clear that things need to be done differently to meet people’s needs.

The College of Emergency Medicine found that 15 per cent of people who attended A&E departments could be treated in the community rather than as an emergency case in hospital.

Helping people find the right NHS service for their illness is just one way the NHS is trying to help ease pressure on healthcare services such as A&E departments. I have compiled an easy-to-use guide, to help explain the various elements of healthcare in Lincolnshire.

It’s important to remember pharmacies do not just dispense prescribed medication, they offer a wide range of over-the-counter medications to treat allergies, constipation, cold and flu symptoms, earache, fever and thrush, and can also offer helpful lifestyle advice.

If you are suffering from a cough or cold, do not rush straight to your GP. Self-care at home should be your first port of call for treatment. There are a wide range of cough medicines and throat lozenges etc available to buy which you can keep at home. If symptoms persist, you should see your GP for further help. By adopting preventative means such as stocking up your medicine cabinet, you can ensure you are prepared. However, it’s important to remember to keep all medicines out of the reach of children or in a locked medicine cabinet.

Alternatively, if you have an injury which is not life-threatening, you can visit your local Minor Injuries Unit for advice and treatment without an appointment. It not only eases the pressure in A&E departments, but it also means you could save yourself a potentially long wait. Visit your local Minor Injuries Unit if you are suffering from wound infections, animal and insect bites, broken bones and sprains and strains. You may already know that your nearest MIU can be found in Johnson Community Hospital, open seven days a week, 8am – 8pm (Tel: 01775 652 000).

If you are not sure which service you should use, or need medical advice fast but it’s not a 999 emergency, you can ring NHS 111, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, where trained advisers are on hand to take your call.

For medical emergencies, you should visit your local Accident and Emergency department. A&E assess patients with life-hreatening conditions such as loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, persistent chest pains and severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. Remember the motto: A&E stands for Accident and Emergency, not Anything and Everything.