Firstly, we would like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy new year from the local NHS.
We would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the thousands of health and care staff who have been working over the festive period to keep us safe and well.
Local teams have been doing a fantastic job but our hospitals, community services and GP practices are seeing extreme demand from people needing help and support.
As a result we are asking everyone to think twice about where you can get the best possible care and treatment if you are unwell.
A website at www.sussexhelpmy.nhs.uk highlights all the available alternatives to A&E visits or GP appointments, and has searchable listings on the most appropriate services available across Sussex to treat a range of illness and injuries.
NHS 111 is available all day every day and NHS choices at www.nhs.uk is available to check symptoms online around the clock.
Each year GPs see thousands of people with colds and flu. These are incredibly important appointments, and for many of these symptoms, people can get the right advice and medication from your local pharmacist.
Coughs, colds, diarrhoea and vomiting can all be treated at home as well with a well-stocked medicine cabinet and plenty of rest.
It is so important that you also give yourself enough time to recover from these common winter illnesses.
Research shows that many of us often give up on the self-treatment of common winter ailments when the symptoms last longer than we expect.
It is really important to know how long symptoms can typically last; for example, a sore throat can last a week, a cold a week and a half, and a cough can be there for around three weeks.
And just because you don’t need a prescription, this doesn’t mean you are not ill enough to need to rest at home, or stay off work.
If you have cold or flu symptoms you should rest at home, keep drinking fluids, and ask for advice from your local pharmacist first.
Thinking twice about where you can get the most appropriate NHS help can really help local health services at this busy time of the year.
By getting advice on common winter illnesses, we can help to make sure GPs are available for people with more urgent health problems, and in turn that can help to save the specialist teams at our A&Es for saving lives.
If you do need medical help this winter and you don’t know where to go or how to get help, please call 111 trained NHS advisors, who are supported by nurses and paramedics, and they can direct you to the most appropriate NHS service to help you.
Find out more online at www.sussexhelpmy.nhs.uk
When to call 999
If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance:
• Heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes).
• Sudden unexplained shortness of breath.
• Heavy bleeding.
• Unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness).
• raumatic back/spinal/neck pain.
You should also call for an ambulance if:
• You think the patient’s illness or injury is life-threatening.
• You think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital.
• Moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause further injury.
• The patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel.