NHS services across Cumbria are appealing for the public to use their NHS wisely as services are extremely busy in the run up to Christmas.

Professor John Howarth, deputy chief executive of North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust said:

“In line with the national picture our services are currently extremely busy and we are appealing to members of the public to help us help you this winter by choosing the most appropriate service for their needs.   While we are doing all we can to ease the pressures we are facing, we would also ask our local communities to help us by making sure they use their NHS responsibly and to help us share these messages in the local community.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is that the public help us by using the right service and by knowing the steps you can make to keep yourself safe.”

The NHS is made up of a range of services and it’s important that you choose the right service for your needs.

  • 111 – this service provides 24 hour advice on any healthcare need
  • Pharmacy – think pharmacy first where there are trained professionals who can prescribe medicines and give advice
  • GP – for ongoing or persistent medical issues
  • Minor injuries and Urgent Treatment centres – for urgent but not life-threatening issues.
  • A&E – for life-threatening and serious emergencies only

Professor Howarth is also urging visitors to stay away from hospitals, schools and care homes if you have any symptoms of norovirus.  He adds:

“We know norovirus is currently circulating in the community and it has led to one ward temporarily closing at West Cumberland Hospital. If we get further cases and have to close more wards it will severely affect the services that we can deliver.

“Norovirus is very infectious but you can treat yourself effectively at home by making sure that you drink plenty of water and let it ride its course. You are still infectious for 48 hours after your symptoms have finished so please don’t visit anyone in hospitals or go to school until you are two days clear of symptoms.”

Another way people can help the NHS help you this winter is to get your flu jab which is free for those who have long term, health conditions, over 65 or under 2 and those who are pregnant.

Prof Howarth added: “Getting your flu jab is the single most effective way to protect yourself and your family from flu. When we have cases of flu in hospital we need to isolate patients and therefore our bed capacity decreases, the more people we can support to get the flu jab the better. It is available from pharmacies and from your GP.”

There are a range of resources that community groups can share to help the public understand which service is best for their needs.

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