Scots urged to 'make the right call' to ease winter pressure on NHS

The 'Make the Right Call' campaign urges people to consider their options before going to A&E as winter pressures loom.

Scotland’s largest health authority is launching a winter campaign to help ease pressure on staff over its busiest period.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is encouraging people to consider the full range of services when they are looking for help.

The ‘Make the Right Call’ campaign is based on three suggestions to help people to know where to go.

The message for patients is unless it’s an emergency, think A,B,C before going to A&E.

Ask yourself: Do I need to go out? For information on keeping yourself well and treating minor illnesses and injuries from home, go to NHS Inform or download the NHS24 app.

Be aware: There is help for many conditions right on your doorstep. Your local GP, pharmacy, dentist or optician offer a range of services.

Call 111: If it’s urgent, or you’re not sure, call NHS24 on 111. They’ll make sure you get the help you need.

Dr Scott Davidson, deputy medical director for Acute Services at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “People don’t really think about how to access care until things go wrong, but during winter, as pressures grow on all our services, it’s important that we all take a few minutes to make ourselves aware of the best places to get help if we need it.

Optometrist Willis Wilkie said treatment can be issued over the phone for some issues

“It’s easy to think that directions to the local A&E department is all we need to know, but in the majority of cases that isn’t the best place to be – and, in fact, you might be asked to go elsewhere if you do turn up at A&E unnecessarily.

“By knowing where best to go, people will be able to access care more simply while at the same time helping to ease the pressure on our hard-working staff – and that is the aim of our Make the Right Call campaign.”

“A&E is still there to help people with life-threatening conditions or the most serious injuries, and we would still like to stress that anyone in those circumstances should call 999 or attend A&E immediately, but by remembering our simple suggestions – so simple, in fact, they’re as easy as A,B,C – more people will be able to access the right care whenever they need it.”

Every community pharmacy across Scotland offers the Pharmacy First service.

It allows pharmacists to provide expert advice and treatment for a wide range of conditions such as coughs, colds, sore throats and earache.

Community pharmacist Maryann Dunnet said: “Some pharmacies like ours here offer an additional service called Pharmacy First Plus.

Ambulances queuing at A&E at Hairmyres Hospital

“That’s where there is a pharmacist onsite that has undertaken additional qualifications to allow us to prescribe for patients, so we can see chest infections, tonsilitis, that kind of thing.

“I think the fact there is a community pharmacy on almost every high street across the country, together with the fact we can provide all these services without the need for an appointment, patients can come in off the street and be seen straight away. It makes us one of the most accessible forms of healthcare.”

Willis Wilkie is an optometrist with practices in Dumbarton, Alexandria and Bearsden.

He said: “If you have got a sore eye you can come in, one of the receptionist staff would go through a triage form, which is just some questions about what is wrong with your eye, when did it start, what sort of symptoms do you have.

“Then an optometrist would look through this and decide when do we need to see you. Is it a same day thing, or can we see you in a couple of days?

“A lot of things will be seen in practice, but sometimes there are some conditions that we can see just a photograph of and treat it over the phone.”

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