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'Choose Well' this Christmas

Your local NHS is encouraging members of the public to choose their health services wisely over the Christmas and New Year period.

There are lots of services available to help with a variety of illnesses and injuries over the festive period including pharmacies, GP practices, Out-of-Hours services, NHS 111 and walk-in centres.

No-one wants to be ill over the festive period but unfortunately, every winter, colds, stomach bugs and other ailments are all too common. By knowing where to go when you need help you can make sure you and your family receive the most appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.

Local A&E services will be very busy over the festive period. To help prevent extra pressure on these services it’s important to remember that A&E services are there to treat people with serious or life threatening injuries and not for minor cases which can be treated by alternative services.

Your local pharmacist is an excellent place to go for advice and treatment of minor ailments such as colds, coughs, indigestion, minor cuts and bruises and many are open over the festive period. Another useful service to remember is NHS 111, which offers health advice and information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There are also steps you can take to keep you and your family well such as stocking up your medicine cabinet with basics like your usual painkillers, cold and flu remedies, plasters and bandages.

By choosing the right service to treat your illness or injury, you’ll receive the quickest and most appropriate treatment so you can continue to enjoy the festive period.

If you are unsure about which health service to use, visit our Choose Well website which contains lots of useful information about the different services available: http://www.choosewellmidlands.nhs.uk/

Below are some examples of conditions you might experience over the festive period and where to go for advice and treatment.

1. Cold & flu:Self care at home.  If you’re feeling a little run down, you may be more susceptible to a cold. Take pain-relieving paracetamol, stay well hydrated and rest.

2. An itchy rash on your skin: Pharmacy.  Allergic reaction to that new aftershave you got for Christmas?  Pharmacists will be able to assess a rash and provide you with medication to help alleviate your symptoms.  To find your nearest pharmacist visit www.nhs.uk .

3. Stomach ache:GP.  Over-indulgence and eating lots of rich food over the festive period may lead to indigestion.  Your pharmacist will be able to provide indigestion remedies, but if your stomach ache persists, your GP will be able to advise you of the best course of investigation and treatment.

4. A cut to your finger: Walk-in centre.  Be extra careful using a very sharp knife to carve your Christmas turkey, but if you do cut yourself and it is fairly deep and bleeding, visit your local walk-in centre where they will be able to advise and treat you if necessary.  To find your nearest walk-in centre  visit www.nhs.uk

5. Sprains & strains: Walk-in centre, self care at home or GP.  Rushing around to do your last-minute Christmas shopping can lead to slips and trips.  Take care and wear supportive, flat boots or shoes especially if you venture out in ice or snow.  If you do fall and sprain your ankle or wrist, you can visit a walk-in centre for assessment, rest at home, or make an appointment to see your GP.

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