Do you know what your options are this winter?

Checks on health

The NHS in Merseyside has launched an ‘Examine Your Options’ campaign to help people choose the right health service for their needs.

The arrival of cold weather can trigger or worsen some illnesses, meaning that health services are more in demand. NHS organisations work together to prepare for winter, but it’s also important that you understand the range of treatment options available to you and your family:

– Your GP is your first point of contact for non-emergency illnesses which you can’t treat yourself, and practices can offer same day appointments if necessary.

– When the surgery is closed, you can still see a local GP with the GP out-of-hours service; just contact your usual practice number and your call will be re-directed.

– Walk-in centres provide treatment 365 days of the year for illnesses you can’t treat yourself. There’s no need for an appointment.

– Your local pharmacy can offer free, confidential advice on a range of health issues and you don’t need an appointment.

– Remember, accident and emergency and ambulance services are for life-threatening conditions like strokes and heart attacks only.

There are lots of things you can do to get ready for winter, which could help you stay well, and mean that you’re well prepared if you do get ill:

– Be prepared for common illnesses like coughs and colds by keeping a well-stocked medicine cupboard at home to see you through winter months. Your local pharmacy can provide you with advice on what to include.

– Make sure you’re up to date with repeat prescriptions, leaving plenty of time ahead of public holidays (such as Christmas).

– Visit www.nhs.uk – the largest health website in the country, for information about hundreds of health issues, and details of GPs, pharmacies and dentists in your area.

– If you’re eligible for the free seasonal flu vaccination make sure you get in touch with your GP to arrange it. Eligible groups include two to three year old children, people aged 65 and over, adults and children with long term health conditions, and pregnant women.

– If you don’t have a GP – perhaps because you’re new to the area or you’re a student – you can register with your local surgery. If you’re not sure where this is you can find out at www.nhs.uk or call 0300 311 22 33.