Doctors in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are urging people to seek help early this winter if they fall ill, rather than waiting until their condition gets worse.
This is particularly important for those who are over 65s, children aged 0-5, and people who are living with a long term condition, such as diabetes, heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. These groups are more at risk of developing complications from minor illnesses such as coughs and colds.
Dr. Nick Willmott, GP in Hinckley and Clinical Lead at West Leicestershire CCG said. “People hear that the health service is busy and they avoid seeking help, not wanting to add to the pressure. But, particularly for people over 65 and young children, what starts off as a mild illness can become serious quickly, and mean that you might end up in hospital. People who have a long term illness such as diabetes, heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder also struggle more to fight off infections and can quickly become seriously ill from what starts of as a minor illness.
For minor illnesses such as coughs and sore throats, local pharmacists can advise you, and get you the medication you need.
But if you have had a heavy cold for more than two weeks or it suddenly becomes much worse, for example if you are becoming breathless, it’s vital that you seek help rather than waiting until it is an emergency. If you think you need to see a clinician on the same day and you can’t get a GP appointment, call NHS 111 who will be able to help.”
NHS 111 is the number to call if someone needs immediate medical attention, but it’s not a serious or life threatening emergency.
Dr. Willmott continues
“When you call 111 they will ask you some questions to find out what is wrong, then, depending what you need, they can transfer you to a doctor or nurse for advice over the phone, make you an appointment with your local urgent care centre, or send help to you at home. It’s the fastest and easiest way to access urgent care.”
In Leicester City, patients who are registered with a GP practice can also make an appointment with a GP or prescribing nurse seven days a week at one of the City Healthcare Hubs. If their own practice cannot fit them in at a convenient time, patients can call 0116 366 0560 during hub opening times or NHS 111. The Westcotes hub is open 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. The Belgrave and Saffron hubs are open Monday to Friday 6:30pm to 10pm and Saturday and Sunday 12 noon until 8pm.