THE NHS in Oxfordshire is urging residents to choose the right health service to ensure they get help as quickly as possible.
The Choose Well campaign asks residents to contact family doctors, pharmacies, and minor injuries units before going to hospital or calling an ambulance.
Julie Dandridge, chief pharmacist for NHS Oxfordshire, said: “Many common complaints, such as upset stomachs, coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms, backache and minor sports injuries can be treated by medicines found in a well-stocked medicine cabinet.
“Just having a few basic essential medicines at home can help to treat the symptoms of many common non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.”
Dr Andrew Burnett said: “A&E departments and the ambulance service experience a significant rise in the number of patients seen each winter.
“Colder weather brings an increase in the number of patients suffering heart attacks, strokes and breathing problems.
“Therefore, it is important that ambulance staff and A&E teams are free to treat people with these serious and life-threatening conditions.”
Dr Burnett said A&E departments need to be kept free for people who need urgent medical attention.
Patients who require repeat prescriptions are also asked to think ahead and get hold of the required amount before weekends when surgeries are closed.
Advice about self-care and details of local health services are available from the NHS Oxfordshire website www.oxfordshirepct.nhs.uk.