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Keep well this winter

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust is asking people who have had minor accidents this winter to think about whether they really need to go to A&E or if they would get more appropriate treatment at another NHS facility.

Historically most people, if they need the NHS, consider visiting either their GP or A&E or dialling 999 but the NHS offers many more ways for people to get the right treatment.

Minor accidents which don't need emergency treatment include cuts, sprains and rashes. Those suffering these should visit Phoenix Walk In Centre or Showell Park Walk In Centre where they will be seen by a nurse. An appointment isn't needed and advice can be given about non-urgent conditions.

In many instances pharmacies are a good choice. They can help give advice and over the counter remedies for diarrhoea, minor infections, headaches, coughs and colds.

Anyone who is unsure on the best course of action can always ring NHS Direct on 0845 4647 for advice and reassurance they're doing the right thing.

Choking, chest pain, blacking out, blood loss and fractures are all considered emergencies and those with these symptoms should not hesitate in visiting their local A&E department.

Hospitals can get especially busy during winter, when viruses such as flu and norovirus are circulating, and slips and trips are common. Choosing the right NHS service will not only help ease the pressure on A&E staff but may also result in quicker treatment.

It's a good idea to make sure your GP surgery, local Out of Hours number and NHS Direct are saved into your mobile phone so you can quickly and easily call for advice if you've had a minor accident.

Jonathan Odum, Medical Director at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said: "A&E departments are for life-threatening and emergency conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes, breathing problems and serious accidents. We need to make sure that A&E services are free to help the people who really need them.

"Up to one out of every four people who go to A&E could have either self-treated or used an alternative local service, avoiding what can be a stressful visit to hospital.

"We're asking people to think carefully about whether A&E is really the best place for their condition."

For a quick and easy guide to see what other services are available to you click here.