A major new campaign is being launched in Norwich to help people find NHS help quickly, when their GP in unavailable.
It highlights the fastest and easiest ways to find help when you need it – by using services wisely.
The health service needs members of the public to choose services wisely this winter, to reduce pressures on doctors and nurses - and keep waiting times to a minimum.
NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has devised some simple advice, which sets out the quickest ways to find the care you need if your GP Practice is unavailable.
1 Ring 111 - the average waiting time to get through is 60 seconds. This is a free-to-call NHS telephone line, with trained local staff. They will either give you the advice you need or arrange for an appointment with a doctor or nurse. Also call 111 to ask for the out of hours GP service.
2 Try your local pharmacy – the typical waiting time is under 5 minutes. Pharmacists are highly trained and can deal with a wide range of illnesses, including those that circulate in winter time like coughs and colds. They can provide you with many of the things you need for your own medicine cabinet at home so you can treat minor illnesses yourself.
3 The NHS walk-in centre inside The Mall, off Timber Hill, is open from 9am-7pm even on Christmas Day. The average waiting time to see one of the nurses on duty is just 28 minutes.
Dr Chris Price, Chair of NHS Norwich CCG said: "We are all in this together. We are all patients and we all have a responsibility to choose the right service to help our local NHS, not the first that springs to mind.
"And as you can see, 111, pharmacies or Timber Hill are the best and quickest options for most patients when their own GP is unavailable."
If it is an emergency, patients should always dial 999.
NHS Norwich CCG is heavily promoting its winter advice to members of the public. 400 posters are being distributed around the City, there will be advertising in Norwich City Council's Citizen magazine and in B-Me Voices, the magazine for Norwich's black and minority ethnic communities, there will be reminders on Radio Norwich over Christmas and New Year and 250 partner organisations have been asked to kindly cascade out the messages via their newsletters and websites.
The CCG is also planning to put up its message in Norwich's two shopping centres, Chapelfield and The Mall so everyone can see it.