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Immediate release: 18 February 2015

Please avoid A&E unless absolutely necessary - call 111 for help

People across south east Essex are being urged not to go to the Accident and Emergency department of local hospitals unless they have a serious or life threatening condition.

The number of people who have visited A&E during the half term holiday has risen, putting pressure on the hospital.

Patients who have visited the department have presented with minor injuries that could have been treated more appropriately and faster at an alternative NHS service.

Top tips for keeping well over half term:

 Keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet - most minor ailments can be dealt with at home

 If you are unwell and you’re not sure where to go, call NHS 111, a free service available 24 hours a day. They can provide clinical assessment and advice and direct you to the best health service for your ailment.

 Speak to your local pharmacist - they can recognise and resolve many common health issues

 Be mindful that sometimes symptoms can last longer than you think - sore throats can last an average of eight days

 Don’t forget, antibiotics don’t work on sore throats, coughs or colds

NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG is urging the public to choose their health services wisely and to think twice before they go A&E.

Ian Stidston, Accountable Officer at NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG, said: “More than ever, we need to make sure that emergency services are free to help people with the greatest need. A&E and 999 services are for life-threatening and serious medical conditions.  Your local high-street pharmacy can help you deal with minor illnesses and complaints such as coughs, colds, flu, stomach upsets, aches and sprains. If you need further advice go to your local pharmacist, walk-in centre, minor injuries unit, or call NHS 111.  If you’re feeling under the weather, get help as soon as possible. See your local pharmacist or get advice from The earlier, the better.”

Dr Roger Gardiner, local GP and clinical lead for NHS 111 said: “When patients dial 111 they are put through to highly trained call handlers, supported by experienced nurses or paramedics. They will be clinically assessed and either given appropriate advice or referred directly to the most appropriate service which can deal with their injury or illness. This may range from dentist, pharmacy, community service to out-of-hours GP, or in some cases an ambulance.”