Have a healthy respect for the NHS this New Year

PUBLISHED: 12:30 30 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:04 17 June 2010

AS Christmas memories begin to fade and thoughts turn to the new year celebrations South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust is urging people across the region to have a healthy respect for the NHS. With more cold weather forecast for the south west in co

AS Christmas memories begin to fade and thoughts turn to the new year celebrations South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust is urging people across the region to have a healthy respect for the NHS.

With more cold weather forecast for the south west in coming days the ambulance service is expecting another busy period as pressure builds at all levels of the NHS.

And despite recent advice to those suffering flu-like symptoms or the winter vomiting bug (norovirus) that it is not appropriate to call an ambulance, SWAST still receives many such calls every day.

So the trust is asking people once again to think especially carefully about all aspects of their lives and take responsibility for themselves, neighbours and those close to them.

Those with elderly relatives are advised to make regular checks on them. Make sure they have enough food and fuel and that any prescriptions they may need are filled. Sometimes a simple telephone call is enough to make sure they are ok.

Drivers should, obviously, not drink before getting in the car but they should also make sure the vehicle is fit to take onto the road by carrying out basic maintenance before travelling. Check tyres, make sure washer bottles are full, carry de-icer spray perhaps even keep a blanket in the boot just in case of a break down when they may need to keep warm for some time.

Anyone planning a big night out to welcome in the new year should drink responsibly, make sure they know how they are going to get home and remember, if they get stuck outside in freezing temperatures, a micro-skirt and crop top is not going to keep them warm.

SWAST chief executive Ken Wenman said: "The forecasters are predicting the weather will turn cold again so we can expect another surge in demand on the NHS.

"When winter arrives we know there are going to be many people in genuine need of a paramedic and an emergency ambulance, but we also know that many people call 999 when they would be much better served calling their GP, the out of hours service, NHS Direct or simply by visiting a pharmacy.

"The NHS is managing the current situation well despite the high number of calls being received but I would ask the public to heed our request and only call 999 when the situation is life threatening."

Other non-emergency NHS treatment options include:

Call your local urgent out-of-hours service:

Devon: 0845 671 0270

Cornwall: 0845 200 0227

Dorset: 0845 600 1013

Somerset:0845 408 8000

· Making an appointment with a GP

· Go to a local pharmacist for advice and access to non-prescription medicines to tackle colds or sore throats. Opening hours can be found by visiting the NHS Choices website

· Visiting a minor injury unit, walk-in centre or treatment centre. Details can be found in the Yellow Pages, BT phonebooks, or NHS websites

· Calling NHS Direct 0845 46 47 or visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk for advice

A few simple precautions can also limit their exposure to health problems:

· The over 65s should ensure their 'flu jab is up-to-date

· People should stay warm when inside the house or outside, consider putting on an additional layer or adding a scarf, for example.

· Use a tissue when sneezing to avoid passing on germs

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