This is the call from the Minister for Health Vaughan Gething as our health care services and health boards continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Protecting vital services and seeking advice from the right place will help us protect the NHS.
Welsh health boards are reporting around 20 to 30% of patients who present at Emergency Departments could be better treated elsewhere or in a different way.
As part of the Protect the NHS campaign people are being asked to use the online symptom checker on the NHS 111 Wales website or call 111 for advice on where to go to get the right treatment.
Community pharmacies can also help in a range of ways including helping with minor ailments and injuries.To support pharmacies to get their medicines in time, people are being asked to order their prescriptions 7 days before they are due.
People should still attend hospitals when asked to do so to continue or review their treatment. Hospitals have taken a range of appropriate measures to keep people safe, including treating people with coronavirus or suspected coronavirus in separate areas to those who do not have the virus to prevent the risk of it spreading.
Those displaying coronavirus symptoms should not go to their pharmacy, GP or local Emergency Department, but instead book a test through 119 and call 111 if symptoms persist or they can no longer cope at home.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:
Now more than ever we need people to think carefully about where to seek advice to avoid extra pressure on the NHS this winter.
It has never been so important for people to think about the type of advice or care they need if they or a family member become unexpectedly unwell or injured.
We need people to use the right services to ensure we do not put extra pressure on GPs, Emergency Departments and the emergency ambulance services as they continue to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
As winter approaches we know more people are likely to suffer from more common ailments, like colds and I would encourage people to seek advice in the right place, which will ensure they get the advice, support or treatment needed.
This year we as a nation have worked together to stop the spread of coronavirus and to support our dedicated NHS and care staff. I’m once again calling on everyone to play their part in protecting the NHS.
Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Andrew Evans, said:
Pharmacists and community pharmacies have worked incredibly hard and played a key role in the coronavirus pandemic, making sure that people get the right medicines and support. This winter pharmacy services will once again be there to provide flu vaccines, advice and treatment for common ailments. I would ask people to do all they can to not only choose the right service but to also use pharmacy services in the right way. Where possible to assist them by ensuring repeat prescriptions are ordered seven days in advance. We all have a role to play this winter in protecting our health services.