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Choose the Right Care this Winter

2014-12-17

Nearly 10,000 people a week fail to turn up for either an appointment with their GP or nurse across Northern Ireland, it has been revealed.

The figures, based on a survey carried out in GP practices last year, showed that over 5,000 people failed to turn up for a GP appointment and around 4,500 failed to turn up for an appointment with a nurse.

The statistics were released by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) at the launch of the ‘Choose Well’ campaign which urges people to think carefully this winter about how they use health and social care services should they or their family become unwell or have an accident.

The ‘Choose Well’ campaign aims to help people gain a better understanding of the range of services available, from self-care at one end right up to 999 and Emergency Departments at the other. It encourages the public to choose the most appropriate option, so they can get better, quicker.

The campaign will include three new radio ads focussing on self-care, emergency departments and mental health, as well as a range of TV, outdoor and newspaper advertising and other activity. The advertising will go live from 18th December and will run in a number of phases until the end of March 2015.Dr Ian Clements, Chair of the HSCB and former GP, encouraged the public to “Think Where and Choose Well”.

The campaign will include three new radio ads focussing on self-care, emergency departments and mental health, as well as a range of TV, outdoor and newspaper advertising and other activity. The advertising will go live from 18th December and will run in a number of phases until the end of March 2015.Dr Ian Clements, Chair of the HSCB and former GP, encouraged the public to “Think Where and Choose Well”.

otograph of the Health Minister Jim Wells and Ian Clements Chair of the Health and Social Care Board with Cool FM’s Pete Snodden and Rebecca Mckinney to launch the Choose Well campaign.

Health Minister Jim Wells and Ian Clements Chair of the Health and Social Care Board join Cool FM’s Pete Snodden and Rebecca Mckinney to launch the Choose Well campaign.

“ ‘Choose Well’ is about informing and empowering people to make the right decisions about which health and social care services to use.

“We have included information on mental health as part of the Choose Well campaign this year, as we felt it was really important that people are aware of the full range of physical and mental health services and how best to use them. We are very grateful to the Mental Health Rights campaign groups and Participation and Practice of Rights for all of their feedback and support in ensuring the information was tailored to the needs of those experiencing mental health difficulties or their families,” he said.

Dr Clements added: “The majority of people use services appropriately, however, there are a number of people, for a variety of reasons who don’t. For example, as demonstrated by the statistics released today, clearly, booking an appointment with a GP or nurse and then not turning up is a waste of resources and takes that slot away from someone who really needs it. I know a lot of work is ongoing to address this issue but we need the public’s continued support.

“It is essential that at a time of increasing pressure on urgent care services and decreasing budgets, we prioritise our use of resources to deal with urgent and emergency cases.”

Launching the campaign Health Minister Jim Wells said:

“Choose Well is about enabling staff in our emergency services to focus on the people who are the most sick and injured this winter. It’s about making it clear to the public that emergency and 999 services are for life threatening and serious conditions. Many minor healthcare issues can be dealt with at home or by seeking the advice of a pharmacist.

“Before you dial 999 or go to your local Emergency Department, think about your options. I don’t want to discourage those with a genuine medical emergency from calling 999, but simply ask that they ‘Choose Well’ and consider the range of other more appropriate services available.”

Commenting on the Choose Well campaign, BMA Northern Ireland Council Chair Dr John D. Woods said:

“It is vital that we all choose the appropriate service for our healthcare needs, particularly during the winter months when demand for GP and Out-of-hours services is higher. It is also crucial that people keep any appointments they have made or inform the practice if they no longer need to see a doctor so that others can benefit.

“Many common ailments can also be treated effectively through self-care or by a pharmacist, however those with serious concerns about their health should of course always consult their GP or an Out-of-hours service.

“Choosing well means that stretched services are more readily available for those in more serious need and will ensure the system is better able to serve us all more efficiently.”

For more information on the range of services available see www.nidirect.gov.uk/choosewell or follow us on twitter – https://twitter.com/HSCBoard

Further Information:

Some examples of how to use the health service appropriately are:

Self Care

Self-care is the best choice to treat minor illnesses, ailments and injuries. A range of common illnesses and complaints, such as aches and pains, coughs, colds, upset stomachs and sore throats can be treated with over-the-counter medicines and plenty of rest.

Pharmacists

Your pharmacist may be able to help you with:

Mental Health

If you’re experiencing mental health difficulties, it’s important to talk to your GP about your thoughts and feelings. Your GP will assess your needs and together with your GP you will be able to determine the best course of action.

Mental health emergency

If your mental or emotional state quickly gets worse, this can be called a mental health emergency or mental health crisis. In this situation, it’s important to get help quickly.

If you have been or are being treated for a mental illness, you should have a care plan. Your care plan,has names and numbers to call in an emergency.

If you don’t have a care plan, you should either:

What to do if you’re caring for someone in a mental health emergency

If you’re caring for someone and are concerned for their safety, you can consider the options above. However, if you can’t get the person to an Emergency Department and you can’t keep them safe, you can call 999.

If you or someone you know needs help, and you would like to speak to someone by telephone, you can also call Lifeline free, in confidence, 24/7 on 0808 808 8000.

GP

GPs provide a range of services including:

GP Out of Hours

GP out of hours is available if you require urgent medical care which cannot wait until your GP surgery reopens. GP out of hours services operate from 6pm each weekday evening until your GP surgery opens the next morning, and 24 hours on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

Minor injuries

Types of injuries treated can include:

ED / 999

Emergency Departments provide the highest level of emergency care for patients, especially those with sudden and acute illness or severe trauma such as:

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