How to get the right NHS treatment, at the right time and in the right place

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Your local NHS has a range of services to meet all your family’s healthcare needs – and you can get the right treatment first time, if you choose the right service.

With changes to local urgent care services taking place this week, doctors are reminding patients how to access the right service for their needs.

“When one of your family is unwell, the only thing on your mind is how to get the care they need, as quickly as possible, but it’s worth stopping to think for a moment, to make sure you choose the right service,” says Dr Matthew Walmsley, a local GP and Chair of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

“Your GP should be the first port of call for the majority of your family’s health needs. GP practices look after people’s health in their local community and deal with a whole range of health problems, as well as providing advice on health, smoking and diet, vaccinations and minor surgery.

“Local pharmacists are also highly trained and can give professional advice on a wide range of minor ailments without an appointment. Pharmacists study for five years to become fully trained, so they are expert in the use of medicines and fully qualified to diagnose and treat minor illnesses from aches and pains and allergies to colds, head lice and skin problems.

“If you urgently need medical help and your practice is closed, you can call NHS 111, who can signpost you to the right service. For emergencies, major accidents or life-threatening situations, 999 is the number to call.

From 1 October, a new urgent care hub is opening at South Tyneside District Hospital, with the existing Jarrow walk-in centre relocating to form part of the new service.

With the urgent care hub and A&E on the same site, patients can be guided to the best service for their needs, which will free up A&E staff to concentrate on genuine emergencies.

The change follows a detailed consultation in which thousands of people provided comments. This feedback helped the CCG to identify concerns and take steps like improving access to GP appointments and launching Think Pharmacy First to raise awareness of the expert advice available from pharmacists.

To find out more about local NHS services, visit