With Christmas and New Year just around the corner, Sefton residents are being urged to consider how they use 999 and A&E over the holidays and beyond.

As many prepare to tuck into turkey, celebrate with friends and family or enjoy a festive night out, NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG are reminding people to think before dialling 999 or visiting accident and emergency departments over the bank holiday.

The message is part of the Examine your Options campaign, which aims to give people information so that they know where to go to in the first instance, to get fast, expert advice when they need it and how to help themselves if they have a common illness or ailment – and help ease the pressure on A&E and 999 services at the same time.

It also reinforces the message that A&E and 999 services are for serious and life-threatening conditions such as heart-attacks, strokes, serious accidents and breathing conditions.

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said:  “With the increasing pressure on emergency services over the busy Christmas and New Year period, we are stressing the importance of ensuring A&E and the 999 number are kept free for genuine medical emergencies.

Dr Clive Shaw, chair of NHS South Sefton CCG, added: “It is vital to remember that the ambulance service and A&E should not be used as an alternative to your GP if your surgery is closed.  If you require medical assistance outside of normal surgery hours this bank holiday, there is a wide range of alternative health services available including GP out-of-hours services, walk-in services and pharmacists who are qualified to offer advice and treat common, everyday illnesses quickly and conveniently.”

Here is how you can Examine Your Options:

  • Self care – stock up on medicines for coughs and colds at home to see you through the winter and make sure you are up to date with repeat prescriptions
  • www.nhs.uk – to check symptoms, get answers to common health questions, enquire about non-urgent health matters and find local services
  • Pharmacist — for advice on common winter illnesses, and the best medicines to treat them – to find your nearest pharmacy log on to www.nhs.uk
  • Litherland Walk-in service – provides treatment 365 days of the year for illnesses you can’t treat yourself from 8am-8pm. They treat people of all ages and there’s no need for an appointment
  • GP – If you need medical attention 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.
  • GP out of hours service – When the surgery is closed, you can still see a local GP by calling your usual practice number and following the instructions to connect to the service
  • NHS 111 – when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 111free from landlines and mobiles


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