People in urgent need of medical care are urged to go online to take the pressure off the A&E departments as the NHS faces a “winter like no other”.
NHS England National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said the coming months are likely to be “extremely tough” due to pressures from a combination of Covid-19 and seasonal flu.
Prof. Powis spoke when he launched the “Help Us, Help You” campaign, which promoted the online service NHS 111, which aims to provide advice and support to patients with urgent but not life threatening problems.
According to the NHS England, the online service can direct patients to urgent treatment centers and walk-in clinics, general practitioners’ offices, pharmacies and emergency dental services.
If necessary, they can call a doctor.
Prof. Powis said, “As we approach an extremely harsh winter like no other, using NHS 111 online first will ensure that anyone who needs medical advice can access it quickly and conveniently, among other services, while using the Seriously ill and seriously ill people can care for injured patients in our A&E.
“So if you need urgent care that is not life threatening, visit 111 online first – we’ll put you in touch with a doctor if necessary and help you get the treatment you need – and please keep on going for care, including up to 111, your pharmacist or family doctor, if you prefer. “
He also stressed how important it is for people to take advantage of the “life-saving” Covid vaccine and the flu vaccination when it is justified.
The campaign comes after the NHS had its busiest September on record. Health officials warn of pressure on hospitals and emergency services report they have “lost” 35,000 hours by queuing in front of the emergency rooms.
Major A&E departments treated more than 1.39 million people in September.
Ambulances responded to a record 76,000 life-threatening emergency calls, while 999 answered nearly a million calls in September.
NHS 111 has also seen record demand, taking one call every seven seconds and over 1.9 million calls in August total.
On Saturday, an ambulance service declared a critical incident in the face of “extreme loads” and an “overwhelming” call volume.
The South Central Ambulance Service urged the public to be wise in considering whether to call, and reminded people to contact them for life-threatening illnesses and injuries.
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