With this weekend’s colder weather predicted across Suffolk and north east Essex and the ongoing junior doctor’s strike, health leaders are asking local people to do all they can to minimise the risk of getting ill or injured and help to reduce pressure on the NHS where possible.
They are also reminding residents about sources of help for people needing advice and support during a traditionally busy time of the year.
The junior doctors’ strike continues until 7am on Tuesday (9 January) in what has been described as the longest consecutive strike action ever taken in the history of the NHS.
Darren Maguire, (pictured below), System Coordination Centre Lead at NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, said: “We are asking for the public’s help as we approach a particularly challenging weekend with the inclement weather and the ongoing industrial action.
“This includes encouraging people to really think about doing less risky activities such as certain sports or do it yourself work which could result in an injury.
“During this week, we have seen longer waits in our emergency departments and longer delays for our ambulances which is because of high demand on our system’s services.
“Please think carefully about what you’re doing to minimise any risks and to help our services.
“During this coming weekend, we will be running an incident room to oversee its response and to ensure our finite resources are deployed in the most effective way.”
Darren added: “In addition, if you can assist with the discharge process by getting friends or loved ones who are medically fit and ready to leave hospital, that would assist our hard pressed clinicians.
“It would allow them to focus on the sickest patients or those in greatest need.”
There are several ways for people to get health advice and care if they, a family member or a friend feel ill:
- Visit the NHS website – for advice and information. It covers thousands of illnesses and conditions: www.nhs.uk
- Visit the Suffolk and North East Essex Wellbeing website for details of local services – www.sneewellbeing.org.uk/winter
- Visit a pharmacy – for expert advice and low-cost medicines to ease symptoms and help treat your condition. Every area has a late opening pharmacy and most have consulting rooms where people can ask for advice in private. Go to www.nhs.uk to find your nearest open pharmacist.
- Contact your GP practice – GP practices have a range of staff to assess and treat patients. Residents can visit their practice website or call them to get help.
Visit www.111.nhs.uk or call 111 – for free, round the clock help when GP surgeries are closed, when it’s an urgent but not a life-threatening 999 situation, or for those who are unsure where to go to get the right help for their medical condition. NHS 111 can advise and even book you an appointment with the out-of-hours GP. They can also advise on late-opening pharmacies, minor injuries units, mental health help or urgent care centre services. The online service or the adviser on the phone will signpost to the nearest suitable service to where you are.
- Mental health help – anyone in a mental health crisis should call NHS 111 and select option 2.