Think Before You Ring 999 This Christmas

Wimbledon GP says there are several health services if you fall ill

Merton residents are being asked to spare a thought for their local hospitals over the festive season, as doctors and nurses continue to provide round the clock care throughout one of the busiest times of the year.

Together with the cold weather and seasonal viruses such as flu doing the rounds, this means many doctors and nurses will be spending the festive season delivering much needed care to patients.

However, it's worth remembering that whilst some services may not be open as long, there is a wide range of NHS services that can provide urgent advice and treatment in addition to A&E. 

​​To support our hardworking doctors and nurses, this Christmas, Merton CCG​​ will be tweeting 'The 12 days of Christmas' with a difference.

The tweets will remind people that alternative services to A&E are available, and that this winter, you should only visit A&E if it is a serious, life-threatening emergency. Each day we will be sharing a tweet about a seasonal ailment and the best place to get it treated during the holiday season. 

Wimbledon GP and Merton CCG Clinical Commissioner Dr Tim Hodgson trained at St George's Hospital and spent eight years working in their Accident and Emergency Department. He said there are a number of ways people could find the right service if they fall ill over the Christmas period. 

"There are a number of NHS services available that can treat you much quicker than A&E if you feel unwell this Christmas. We know it can sometimes be confusing knowing which one is right for you when you're not feeling 100 per cent. That's why we'll be tweeting this Christmas to reach out to local people with some examples of illnesses and injuries typical at this time of year, and advice on where they can be best treated."

"Remember, you can call NHS 111 24 hours a day, seven days a week for urgent medical advice and support, or visit to find the right service out of hours. We are asking people to think before calling an ambulance or attending A&E, these services should not be used as an alternative for a GP."

During the winter season, self-care is the best for a cold; treat this at home simply by combining a well-stocked medicine cabinet with plenty of rest.  For minor ailments, local pharmacists can provide expert advice on how to help manage illnesses, as well as providing guidance on the best treatments.

This Christmas and New Year period, some NHS services, such as GP Practices and pharmacies will be closed or have limited opening hours on Christmas Day (Friday 25 December), Boxing Day Bank Holiday (Monday 28 December) and New Year’s Day (Friday 1 January 2016).  A list of pharmacies open during the Christmas period can be found here.

NHS services available to Merton residents over the Christmas period are:

·         Self-care – people suffering from minor ailments such as coughs, colds and grazes should treat themselves at home or visit their local pharmacy

·         GP out-of-hours service – If you need to see a doctor when your GP surgery is closed, GP out-of-hours services are available on the usual surgery number or by calling NHS  111 direct and are staffed by local doctors and nurses who can offer advice or, if necessary, treatment at home or in a local health centre

·         Pharmacies – your local pharmacist is qualified to offer advice on health issues and medication as well as treat headaches, an upset stomach and other common illnesses. They can also sometimes issue you with an emergency supply of your repeat medication without you having to speak to a doctor.

·         NHS 111 – NHS 111 is a free phone service that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It offers a one-stop number for patients with urgent, but not life-threatening symptoms

·         Wilson Walk In Centre – with no appointment necessary your local walk in centre is managed by doctors and nurses who are available to deal with minor illnesses and injuries, such as cuts, burns, sprains and suspected breaks 

·         The Wilson Health Centre, Cranmer Road, Mitcham, Surrey, CR4 4TP, Tel: 020 3458 5100.

·         Urgent Care Centres - attend an urgent care centre if you have an urgent but non-life-threatening illness or condition.  Urgent care centres are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Urgent Care Centre, St George's Hospital, Blackshaw Rd, Tooting, SW17 0QT, Tel: 020 8672 1255.
Urgent Care Centre, St Helier Hospital, SM5 1AA , Tel: 020 8296 2000.​​

Click here for the guide to local NHS services

December 19, 2015