HEALTH workers are urging patients to choose the right medical services over the Easter holidays.
Many Wearsiders will enjoy a four-day break next weekend, from Good Friday to Easter Monday.
In a bid to ease the pressure on accident and emergency in Sunderland, and to save patients’ time, doctors are encouraging people who become unwell to ensure they go to the right place for treatment.
People are also being reminded to collect any repeat prescriptions before the weekend in case they need them.
Dr David Hambleton is director of commissioning and reform for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, which covers Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust.
He said: “Easter is a busy time for accident and emergency departments and unfortunately there are still many people who attend hospital with minor problems.
“In order to save patients’ time and inconvenience and allow accident and emergency staff to concentrate their efforts on those most in need, we want to highlight the range of health services available.
“The Choose Well campaign has proved successful in recent years in highlighting this and we’re hoping to do the same this year to ensure that patients get the best and most appropriate treatment at the right place and at the right time.”
The Choose Well chart helps people link the seriousness of their symptoms with a particular NHS service.
The colour-coded thermometer highlights six areas of healthcare – self care, NHS Direct, pharmacists, GPs, minor injury and illness units/walk-in centres, and A&E.
Patients can treat minor illnesses themselves with the help of a well-stocked medicine cabinet as well as plenty of rest.
GPs can offer advice, carry out examinations and write out prescriptions for persistent health problems.
However, A&E should be visited in case of serious illness or for symptoms such as chest pains, blackouts, choking or blood loss.
NHS Direct operates 24 hours a day for people who have any health questions or want information on what health services are available in their area.
It can be contacted on 0845 46 47 or by going to www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk.