How to choose the right NHS service if you are unwell or injured
There are high levels of demand across all services. We want to make sure that people choose well to get the help they need. The NHS is always there for anyone who needs it, but we are asking people to think about the best way they can get the help they need. Our staff are working incredibly hard to care for everyone who needs our help.
Looking after yourself means knowing how to keep fit and healthy, maintaining good mental health, knowing how to manage self-treatable conditions and when to seek further help. Self-care is recommended when people have a minor condition which doesn’t need someone to be seen by a doctor.
Lots of illnesses can be managed safely at home, or with a trip to a local pharmacist. This includes things like nappy rash, hay fever, head lice, dandruff, oral thrush, teething and warts. Your local pharmacist can give advice on lots of health issues and there’s no need for an appointment. Over 95% of community pharmacies now have a private consultation room from which they can offer advice to patients and a range of services. Almost 90% of the population has access to a community pharmacy within a 20-minute walk from their home.
- GP Practices Are Open
GP practices are open and have remained open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. People often see their GP about minor short-term problems that have lasted longer than they expected or keep coming back; as well as support to manage long-term conditions. Many GPs are now working in a different way, asking patients to get in touch online initially (where possible) and operating a triage (order of treatment) system to ensure patients with more urgent concerns are prioritised, including for a face-to-face appointment. Online services don’t replace contacting your GP by phone rather they are another helpful, fast and convenient way to get in touch. Practice nurses can also help with lots of different problems and most practice nurses carry out cervical screening (smear tests) and childhood immunisations (vaccinations).
Reasons to contact your GP may include concerns regarding ongoing conditions such as diabetes or asthma, ear discharge / pain, unexplained rashes and skin conditions, persistent stomach-ache, and any cancer symptoms such as a lump in your breast, changes in bowel habits, blood in your wee or poo, unexplained weight loss, moles that appear to change or cough that you’ve had for three weeks or more. GPs, or calling 111, can also help parents and carers if their child suddenly becomes unwell.
- Dental practices are open and providing services
Dental practices are open and providing services. Practices are working hard to see as many patients as possible while ensuring that services are safe for the public. They can be contacted by phone or online for advice, or to book an appointment if needed. The Greater Manchester dental helpline (0333 332 3800) is available from 8am to 10pm every day, including weekends and Bank Holidays for those who need help urgently when their practice is closed, or do not have a regular dentist.
- The emergency department (A&E) is for life-threatening emergencies
The Emergency Department (A&E) is for life-threatening emergencies including but not limited to severe chest pain, stroke, difficulty breathing, bleeding you can’t stop, possible broken bones, severe allergic reactions, severe burns, loss of consciousness and other major conditions. The NHS has a service finder on its website and a link is provided here.
Choosing well helps keep the Emergency Department free for emergencies and those who are critically ill. Anyone attending who is considered by a health professional to be a non-emergency will instead be supported to access an alternative, more appropriate service such as a pharmacist, minor injuries unit, community service such as nursing, long-term condition support and therapy services, or other primary care service. We want to ensure that people aren’t unnecessarily waiting for long periods of time in our Emergency Department when they could have been seen and treated more appropriately and quicker elsewhere.
- NHS 111
Anyone who has an urgent medical need and isn’t sure what to do can contact NHS 111 online (https://111.nhs.uk/) or call for free. It’s available around the clock, seven days a week. Around half of those who call 111 speak to a clinician such as a GP, nurse, or pharmacist. The NHS 111 service can provide self-care advice, signpost to an appropriate local service, or book people in to be seen at their local pharmacy, GP practice or emergency department. NHS 111 can book you an appointment at your local A&E or emergency department. This means you will have an allocated time to attend hospital and be treated, so you don’t have to wait a long time to be seen and can also help services avoid becoming overcrowded.
- Attending Appointments
- In healthcare settings, we need to do all we can to help protect our staff and patients and reduce the risk of infection for those working in our services and those who need our care - therefore we are reminding people that staff, patients, and visitors will all be expected to continue to follow social distancing rules when visiting any care setting as well as using face coverings, mask and other personal protection equipment.
- Visiting is currently suspended across all our sites.
- Mental Health
- Mental Health support can be found at: https://hub.gmhsc.org.uk/mental-health/covid-19-resources/.
- Greater Manchester crisis phone helplines provide support 24 hours a day, seven days a week to people of all ages, including children, who need urgent mental health support. The crisis lines aim to help people who need urgent mental health support because they are experiencing emotional distress and are struggling to cope.
- The crisis helplines also take calls from family members, carers or anyone who is concerned that someone they know is experiencing a mental health crisis.
- The crisis helpline phone number for Wigan: 0800 051 3253 (freephone)
- Healthwatch information and signposting services can support you to make choices about the health and care services you may need. This service will help you to find out what information is available and how to access the support you need to live well within your local area.
- Healthwatch can provide help over the phone, by email and in some circumstances face to face.
- Healthwatch also listens to feedback about patient experience so that they can help providers of health and social care improve services.
- You can find useful guides and contact details about your Local Healthwatch here.
Advice for specific issues
- RSV / bronchiolitis advice for parents/carers
Respiratory Syncytial Virus is a common seasonal winter virus which causes coughs and colds and is the most common cause of bronchiolitis in children aged under 2 years. Most case of bronchiolitis are not serious, but you should contact your GP or call NHS 111 if:
- You’re worried about your child
- Your child has taken less than two or three feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more
- Your child had a persistent high temperature of 38°C or above
- Your child seems very tired or irritable
A new public awareness campaign, Little Lungs Need Big Protection, informs parents and carers about the symptoms of bronchiolitis, and learn when and how to seek help.
- Childhood immunisations
- You'll usually be contacted by your GP surgery when your child is due for a routine vaccination. This could be a letter, text, phone call or email.
- Vaccines are given at eight weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks and 1 year then less frequently after this. Call your GP practice to make sure your child has any vaccinations they've missed, whatever the reason.
- More information here.
- How to book a Covid-19 vaccination
- Appointments can be booked online here or by calling 119 between 7am and 11pm
- More information can be found here: Book or manage your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
- Details of walk-in vaccination sites in Greater Manchester can be found here.
- Useful information on the NHS Covid pass can be found here.
- How to register with a GP
- Anyone in England can register with a GP surgery. It's free to register
- You do not need proof of address or immigration status, ID or an NHS number
- How to register with a GP