Winter means lower temperatures and higher numbers of people seeking medical help so it’s really important that you get your medical advice and treatment in the right place.
NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for medical advice, and pharmacies can offer over the counter medicine for a range of minor illnesses and injuries, without the need for an appointment.
If you need to visit your GP, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your appointment.
Chair of Greater Preston Clinical Commissioning Group, Sumantra Mukerji said:
“The public rely on GP services and it is important that every appointment is worthwhile to patients.
“As a GP, I know it’s really useful when patients come to appointments with as much information as possible to help the consultation.
“Appointments are usually 10 minutes long, so it’s important that patients make the most of that time.”
Greater Preston CCG have got some advice for anyone visiting their GP this winter.
1. Think GP? Think twice
A GP is often the first port of call when medical issues arise but in many cases, a practice nurse can deal with your concern.
There may be special clinics you can access, such as asthma, diabetes and sexual health, so make sure you ask your practice about these options.
And don’t forget; take dental issues to your dentist, not to your GP.
If you’re comfortable, tell the receptionist the nature of your request to see your GP. They’ll be able to advise whether you could see a nurse quicker, book you in with a particular GP who specialises in your concern, or give you a longer appointment.
2. Be a savvy booker
Many practices offer an online service where you can book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view your patient records via the online Patient Access system. Ask your practice’s receptionist about booking appointments online.
3. Make the appointment as easy as possible
Taking a friend or relative to your GP can help you to feel more at ease and therefore get more out of your appointment.
If you think your appointment may require physical examination, wear clothing that is easy to remove.
And don’t go to the loo right before your appointment! You may need to have a urine test.
4. Getting what you want from the appointment
You may go to your GP assuming you need antibiotics for your illness.
Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them means they are less likely to work for you in the future. Trust your doctors’ advice regarding the best appropriate treatment for them.
And don’t assume you need to be referred to a specialist. Your GP will refer you if they think it’s necessary.
5. Prevention is better than cure
Make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked up with all the essentials so you can treat common ailments as soon as they appear.
If you start to feel unwell, at the first sign of winter illness (even if it’s just a cough or a cold), seek advice from a pharmacist before it escalates into something more serious.
If you need urgent treatment for non-life threatening illnesses and injuries, urgent care centres are available.
Urgent care centres are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital.
Not sure which service you need? Call NHS 111 who can give you advice and service information.
Keep an eye out for notices in your GP practice about changes to working days over the winter period.