A&E doctors and nurses in Salford, Oldham, Bury, and North Manchester

DOCTORS and nurses from the four local A&E departments and Urgent Care Centre (UCC) operated by the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA) are asking the public to think carefully and consider which health service to use, so they can help you stay well this winter, and get free A&E for emergencies and those who are critically ill.

The Northern Care Alliance NHS Group brings together five hospitals, specialist and acute services, a range of associated community services, and over 17,000 staff across Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

The number of people attending the Group’s four A&Es in Salford, Oldham, Bury and North Manchester and the UCC in Rochdale is increasing significantly due to the cold weather and many people could instead self-care or get advice from their local pharmacy, GP or our of hours GP, NHS walk-in-centre or NHS111.

By choosing the right service, patients will get the best treatment in the shortest possible time, whilst keeping the A&Es free to treat patients with the most serious conditions, who need urgent care.

A&Es are for emergencies such as choking, severe bleeding or a suspected stroke. For all other illnesses, you can be seen a lot quicker at a GP surgery or pharmacy. Rochdale Infirmary’s 24/7 UCC is available to treat patients with a minor injury or illness or an urgent, but less serious, emergency.

On Wednesday 19 December 2018 there were 288 attendances at Salford Royal A&E, 327 attendances at The Royal Oldham, 192 at Fairfield General Hospital (Bury), 280 at North Manchester General, and 128 attendances at the UCC at Rochdale Infirmary.

People with cold and flu-like symptoms should use the services available in the community, including local GP surgeries and pharmacies. Some GPs are now open for extended hours in the evenings and weekends. A large range of common illnesses and injuries can be treated at home simply with over-the-counter medicines and plenty of rest.

Dr Chris Brookes, A&E Consultant at Salford Royal, and Group Chief Medical Officer for the Northern Care Alliance, said:

“The number of people with coughs, colds, sore throats and other flu-like symptoms attending our four A&Es and one UCC is increasing due to the cold weather. Our A&Es are very busy and should be used for emergencies such as choking, severe bleeding or a suspected stroke. For all other illnesses, you can be seen a lot quicker at a GP surgery or even a pharmacy, so please stay well this winter and help us help you by choosing the right service for your needs.

“If your condition isn’t serious you may have a long wait in our A&Es while people with more serious conditions are seen first. If you’re not sure what to do or want help finding an alternative, then please phone NHS 111 for advice or visit their website.

“We are asking the public to help us to keep our emergency services free for those who need them most during this busy Christmas and New Year period.”

Pharmacists can offer advice and over the counter remedies for many common winter illnesses and local people are being reminded to stock up their cupboards with medicines over winter.

There are also resources, including symptom checkers, available to help the public decide what service is the best one to treat them. These include the Choose Well website, NHS Choices website, and the NHS 111 telephone advice service, which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls to the service are free from landlines and mobile phones.

For a full list of pharmacy opening times this Christmas and New Year please visit the Greater Manchester LPC website: https://psnc.org.uk/greater-manchester-lpc/service-information/pharmacy-bank-holiday-opening-hours/