Choose well and be prepared this summer

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IF you have a cut – would you go into accident and emergency? If you ran out of your medicines or had to take the emergency contraception, would you call the out of hours GP?

The answer to both of these may be yes. Although you might be making the wrong choice for you – there are quicker and more appropriate ways to access healthcare help when you need it.

Christine Macleod, Medical Director at NHS Cambridgeshire said: “Injuries such as mild barbecue burns and sprained ankles from sports are common during the summer months, and despite how careful we are, accidents can happen. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared and know where to go for the most appropriate medical treatment.

“It’s important that, when you have an minor accident or feel unwell, you don’t automatically pick up the ‘phone and dial 999 or head off to A&E. Start off by being prepared, this means having a well-stocked medicine cabinet with paracetamol, anti-diarrhoeal medicine, indigestion remedy and sticking plasters – having these items immediately on hand means that people are able to treat many minor illnesses at home.

“If your condition is more serious but not life-threatening, the first course of action should always be to call your GP surgery. If the surgery is closed, you will either get put straight through to the out-of-hours service or asked to call the service directly on 0330 123 9131.”

“Additionally, there are three minor injuries units (MIU) located in Wisbech (open from 8.30am-6pm), Ely (open from 8.30am – 6pm) and Doddington (open 8.30am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm on Saturday and Sunday). These MIUs are a convenient alternative to the A&E department and qualified nurses will treat a wide range of conditions including cuts, sprains, stings and strains. In addition there is a walk-in centre in St Neots, where patients do not need an appointment.

“Remember that going to A&E or dialling 999 should only be done in a real emergency, and don’t forget your local pharmacy – they are a great place to go for advice – just ask!”

“Summer time in Cambridgeshire is a beautiful place to be, and getting out and about is great for our health. The message is simple – enjoy the summer and have a good time, however, make sure you know what to do and where to go should you need medical attention.”

Life threatening and severe illness and injury, for example:

* Choking

* Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg (mainly on one side of the body)

* Chest pain

* Blacking out

* Heavy blood loss

* Serious injury

* Fits

Go to the nearest hospital accident and emergency department (A&E) or call 999.

Non-urgent illness or minor injury, for example:

* Cuts

* Strains

* Vomiting

* Ear ache

* Back ache

Visit your nearest MIU or Walk-in Centre. Alternatively make an appointment with your GP when your ilness or injury just won’t go away.

Minor ailment, for example:

* Short bout of diarrhoea

* Runny nose

* Painful cough

* Headache

Go to your local pharmacist or ask someone to go for you. Your local pharmacist can give you advice on common ailments and the medicines you need to treat them. Many pharmacies are open on Sundays and some late into the evening. Some pharmacists can also provide emergency contraception.

In need of advice

* Unwell?

* Unsure?

* Confused?

* Need help?

Contact NHS Direct on 0845-4647 or visit NHS Direct offers confidential health advice and information 24 hours a day. Contact NHS Direct if you are ill and have any questions about your health. The service can also help you to make the right healthcare choice and find health services in your local area.

Very minor illnesses and injuries, for example:

* Grazes

* Sore throat

* Cough

* Hangover

Self-care is the best choice for treating very minor illnesses and injuries. It is good to be prepared by keeping a stock of essential medicines including painkillers, anti-diarrhoea medicine, oral re-hydration mixture and indigestion remedy, as well as plasters, antiseptic cream and a thermometer.