This year’s Choose Well campaign, designed to help people make the right decisions of where to get advice and treatment if they are unwell to help ease pressure on GPs and hospital emergency departments, has been launched.

NHS Wales Chief Executive Dr Andrew Goodall has also launched a new initiative, My Winter Health Plan, aimed at helping people with long-term physical or mental health conditions provide vital information for visiting health professionals to allow more people to be seen and treated at home and avoid unnecessary trips to A&E.

NHS Wales Chief Executive Dr Goodall said: “Making the right choice of which services and treatments will save you time and make sure you and your family get the right care quickly. I know NHS staff will be working hard this winter.  Choose well to help them help you.”

Dr Goodall said 10,000 My Winter Health Plans which also contain winter health and care tips, are also being distributed by health boards, local authorities and a number of key organisations including Age Cymru.

He said: “The aim of My Winter Health Plan is to provide people with chronic conditions, or their carers, with a form that they can display on their fridge or in an easy to see part of their home. If they then receive a home visit in an emergency from a health and care professional, family member or neighbour, that person will have useful key information to help them make a more informed decision on what action to take. It is anticipated that this will help avoid unnecessary journeys to hospital.”

Dr Goodall reminded people that everybody can help ease winter pressures by using the wide range of health and care professionals in communities for advice and treatment when they are unwell.

“Community pharmacists can advise you and your family on minor ailments, coughs or colds. They can offer expert advice, over-the-counter medicines and prescriptions and, if needed, advise whether you need to see your GP,” said Dr Goodall.

“By making this vital choice you can often be seen and treated more quickly, saving you time and freeing up GPs and hospital A&E departments for those who really need them.

“For persistent symptoms, infections or if your child has a fever, go and see your GP.

“If it isn’t a life-threatening emergency but you aren’t sure where to go, contact NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 or go to www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk for the Symptom Checker.

“A&E is for people who are very sick or badly injured and unless this is the case you will get the right care quicker by choosing well.  Even if the A&E is closer, it is not the best place to go to for most health problems.

“There is lots we can all do, like ensuring prescriptions are ordered in advance.  Friends and relatives of older people can help by checking in on them and making sure they are keeping their homes warm – 18-21C – to prevent any existing health problems getting worse.”

You can download a My Winter Plan at www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk

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