Clinicians across Suffolk and north east Essex say the local NHS is currently under greater pressure than usual as consultants and junior doctors take coordinated strike action.
According to system leaders, both routine and emergency care are significantly affected.
They’re encouraging local people to be prepared, in advance, and know which services to turn to for advice, support and where needed, treatment, especially for those living with long term conditions.
NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB has produced a series of ‘taking care of yourself’ factsheets which are available for local people to download from the ICB’s website.
The guides, which have been developed by clinicians, provide focused advice for those living with long term conditions such as Asthma, COPD, Diabetes (types 1 and 2) and Heart problems.
Dr Ruth Bushaway, Deputy Medical Director at NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB, said: “Our system continues to work hard to ensure patients receive the care they need.
“The action affects many services and will have a significant knock-on effect to others.
“This is why we thought it would be helpful to share advice and information for those people living with long term conditions so they know what to do should they feel they need additional advice.
“Of course, services will continue to operate as best they can for anyone who needs to use them.”
The factsheets are available at http://www.sneewellbeing.org.uk/winter/LTCs and have also been shared with voluntary sector partners across Suffolk and north east Essex.
Dr Bushaway added that if you do not live with a long term condition, but do need medical help or advice, there are other avenue of support available.
“If you need medical help or advice, please use the NHS symptom checker at nhs.uk or visit NHS 111 online in the first instance unless it is a life-threatening emergency when you should still call 999 or go to A&E.
“We would also encourage people with minor ailments to visit their local pharmacies.
“Pharmacists are experienced medical professionals who can be a great source of help and advice and residents do not need an appointment to speak to them.
“We also ask residents to be mindful to leave enough time for their GP practice to process repeat prescriptions (at least 72 hours) and additional time for your pharmacy to dispense it.”
Residents can also play their part to assist during industrial action by taking simple steps to look after themselves, their loved ones, vulnerable family members and neighbours, by checking in on them.
For more information about this industrial action and for advice and guidance when to call 999 and when to go to A&E, visit the NHS website www.nhs.co.uk