Doctors and health chiefs in the Sunderland area want anyone feeling unwell to think about the best place to go to get help.
They are asking people to consider visiting one of the four urgent care centres available or phone NHS 111 for speedy support and advice. This will take the pressure off the Emergency Department in Sunderland Royal Hospital, which is currently very busy.
Dr Ian Pattison, a local GP and Clinical Chair at NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We want all patients to get the quickest and best treatment and in the right place.
“This is not always the Emergency Department which is for real emergencies. The sorts of illnesses that affect people at this time of year can easily be dealt with by our urgent care centres, or you could visit a pharmacist who will be happy to help.”
The four urgent care centres in the Sunderland area, which are open from Monday to Friday from 10am-10pm, including bank holidays, and from 8am-10pm on Saturdays and Sundays, are:
- Washington Primary Care Centre, Parkway, Washington, NE38 7QZ
- Bunny Hill Primary Care Centre, Downhill, Sunderland, SR5 4BW
- Houghton Primary Care Centre, Houghton-le-Spring, DH4 5HB
- Pallion Health Centre, Hylton Road, Sunderland, SR4 7XF
Dr Pattison added: “If we all play our part in using the health service best suited to our needs then the hardworking doctors and nurses in Sunderland’s Emergency Department can devote all their time to urgent and emergency patients.”
Pop along to the pharmacist if you’re feeling poorly
A range of minor ailments can be treated quickly and effectively by visiting your local pharmacist, easing the pressure on other services such as GPs and walk-in centres and leaving A&E free for real emergencies.
And around 85% of pharmacies now have a private consultation area where patients can discuss issues with pharmacy staff without being overheard by other members of the public.
NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Clinical Chair and local GP Dr Ian Pattison said: “Pharmacists are highly trained and very much an underused resource in terms of the advice they can offer to patients.
“Many people don’t realise that pharmacists train for five years, so you can rely on them for detailed knowledge of medicines.
“With more than 700 pharmacies in the North East and no need to make an appointment, it’s far simpler to ask a pharmacist about minor things like coughs, headaches and winter vomiting.”
Demand for NHS services goes up during the winter months, so it’s crucial that services are available for people who need them most, he added.
“Winter weather means more slips and trips – and generally more of us feeling unwell as we spend more time indoors and coughs, colds and other viruses are passed around.
“That adds up to more people wanting to see their GP, attend Accident and Emergency or call 999. But it’s important to stop and consider the best service for your needs.
For more information about keeping well in winter, visit www.nhs.uk/staywell