Winter challenges put extra pressure on health and social services and people are being urged to Choose Well and access the right services, first time to get quicker advice or assurance, when they or their families become unexpectedly unwell.
The winter Choose Well campaign encouraging people to make the right choices for non-emergency treatment is launched this week.
It forms part of Welsh Government support for NHS Wales which also includes providing an additional £30m for health boards, the ambulance service and local authorities to help them add community-based, hospital bed and social care capacity in preparation for the increased winter pressures.
The Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething said:
Emergency departments and ambulance services have had their busiest year ever so far. Winter brings with it additional challenges, including cold and icy conditions, flu, increased hospital admissions for older people and more people using GP and urgent care services.
The pressures are actively felt by our staff as well as patients and their families. It is vital that we all make sure we choose the right health services for symptoms that are not life threatening.
Evidence suggests around one in five people who go to their local emergency department don’t need to be there. Choosing alternatives such as the online symptom checker and telephone services of NHS Direct Wales or visiting a local pharmacist means people are able to access advice and reassurance more quickly.
Professional health advice from a pharmacist can free up under-pressure frontline health workers in emergency departments to help the people who need them most. The majority of high street opticians can also provide advice and care for eye conditions, just look out for the NHS logo.
Welsh Government’s resilience planning also includes:
- A focus on people who have chronic respiratory conditions. This includes extending an offer of a free flu vaccine to workers who provide home care, complimenting the existing programme that provides free jabs to health workers, and which last year grew to include staff working in adult residential care and nursing home.
- As part of a national approach, the Emergency Department Wellbeing and Home Safe service, delivered by the British Red Cross, and the Hospital to A Healthier Home service delivered by Care and Repair Cymru will continue to support staff, patients and their families over what we know will be another challenging winter.