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Wirral University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

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Wirral residents urged to contact NHS 111, visit a pharmacy or contact their GP if it’s not a health emergency

The NHS on the Wirral is currently facing a huge demand for its services, with pressure being experienced across the entire system from GPs to the hospital Emergency Department, and local people are urged to consider the most appropriate options available for their health care.

A large number of people are attending the Emergency Department (A&E) at Arrowe Park Hospital with minor illnesses that could have been treated by advice from a pharmacist in the community, a GP or via NHS 111.

For many common illnesses that are not COVID-19 related, a pharmacist or NHS 111 can offer advice. If it’s not an emergency, people are asked to visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111 in the first instance where they have access to a range of local health services. These include an appointment at their local urgent treatment centre, GP out-of-hours service or a telephone consultation with a healthcare specialist- allowing people to receive the care and advice they need at home.

People can also seek advice for medical conditions and symptoms online via the NHS website; nhs.uk.

NHS 111 will book a time slot for anyone needing to visit the hospital Emergency Department (A&E), avoiding lengthy waits and allowing for social distancing to reduce the risk of infection at this busy time.

Janelle Holmes, Chief Executive at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, said: ‘We are experiencing a very busy time in our hospitals dealing with increased COVID-19 admissions plus usual winter pressures and rolling out the vaccination programme. We urge the people of Wirral to help us to help you by only coming to A&E for an emergency and using the wealth of other support – for physical and mental health – on offer.”

Hazel Richards, Chief Nurse at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, added: “We are dealing with unprecedented challenges in the NHS and on the Wirral. We need the support of the local community to only come to the hospitals in a genuine emergency and for them to consider accessing other forms of healthcare advice like NHS 111, pharmacists in the community, GPs and community nursing teams.

“It’s also really important that patients follow all the rules such as wearing masks and keeping social distancing for their safety when in hospital or attending an appointment.

“We are working with our partners in Wirral healthcare and Local Authority to provide the best service for patients in the most appropriate way possible.”

Paula Simpson, Chief Nurse at Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “With enormous demand on the health system, we want to make sure people can safely access the services they need, and where possible remain at home. People can access high quality specialist support at home either online, over the phone or video call and where necessary face to face.

“The Trust’s Telehealth and COVID Pulse Oximetry at Home service is a great example of how we are providing specialist care in new ways, offering people the best treatment options available. Unless you are seriously ill, staying at home is the safest place to be and we can provide the support you require.”

Councillor Janette Williamson, Leader of Wirral Council, said: “As in many areas of the UK, Wirral’s Coronavirus cases continue to rise, causing immense pressure on our borough’s health and emergency services. This is why I and my NHS partners am urging residents in non-emergency situations to contact NHS 111 first,rather than going straight to A&E.

“In a non-emergency situation, calling 111 will allow dedicated health specialists to triage you and your loved ones by phone or online, before directing you to the right place for your care – at the right time. It simplifies the process for both our NHS and key workers and for the individuals requiring assistance – and it could save you a long and unnecessary wait in A&E.

“While our health and care workers face seasonal Winter pressures, complicated by the pandemic, this is a simple thing that the public can do to support our NHS and help them not to become overwhelmed.”

Dr Paula Cowan, GP and Chair NHS Wirral CCG, added: “At these times of such immense pressure, we need to work together across our health and care providers to support each other and ensure the sustainability of the systems we have in place. We all have an individual role to play as Wirral residents in complying by the guidance, to ensure that we limit the spread of the virus as much as possible. I would encourage those who feel they need health care- with the exception of an emergency, to consider all options such as self-care, pharmacy and NHS 111 before accessing any other services.” 

Please ensure the Emergency Department is available for those in most urgent need of care. For emergencies, always call 999.

For urgent mental health needs, people can call Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s urgent mental health helpline on 0800 145 6485.

For up-to-date information on community organisations and support available in Wirral, people can also visit Wirral InfoBank at wirralinfobank.co.uk