Doctors plea for patients to use NHS services ‘wisely’


Doctors are urging patients to think carefully about where to go for medical help this bank holiday weekend.

Health services are currently seeing and treating a significant number of patients and it is expected this will increase over the coming weeks.

Dr David Whitehead, clinical director at NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG and local GP in Storrington, said: “Everyone working within the NHS wants people to be able to receive the best possible care and to recover as quickly as possible.

“There are pressures on local health services at the moment, in particular with a number of very sick and vulnerable older people.

“The teams across the area are doing a fantastic job, but if people can support us and think about the range of services available when they need help it would ease the pressure.”

Dr Rob Haigh, deputy medical director, said:“As we expect at this time of year, both our acute hospitals are extremely busy.

“I am exceptionally proud of the efforts of our staff to ensure that all our patients receive the care they need. I also know how much our local population appreciates the work of our staff and recognise how important it is that our teams are able to focus on those patients in greatest need of our care.

“To help us achieve this, please do make yourself aware of the other treatment options available in your area, think about which one is most appropriate for you and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

“If you do decide to come to A&E with something that could be dealt with elsewhere, the unfortunate reality is that you will be diverting an emergency doctor or nurse away from treating someone who really needs them. One day, that could be you or someone you love.”

Dr Whitehead continued: “High street pharmacies are open across Coastal West Sussex this weekend and can help with free, quick advice on many health issues, how to look after yourself at home, and medicines to treat common illnesses and injuries.

“You can also call 111 for advice on how to treat yourself or where you can find the nearest, most appropriate NHS service. 111 can also book an appointment with an out-of-hours doctor.

“Going straight to A&E shouldn’t necessarily be the first choice, unless your condition is life-threatening. Making sensible choices about which NHS service to use can mean you still get the help you need but you also make sure emergency services are there for those that need that care the most. If you are not in serious need of help please use the wide range of help available elsewhere.”

The NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group has released the following information about what services are available to patients across the South:

- NHS 111: If you need medical help but you don’t know where to go or how to get help, please call 111 trained NHS advisors (supported by nurses and paramedics) will direct you to the most appropriate NHS service to help you. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.

-Pharmacy: Your local pharmacist can help by being able to advise on a number of different ailments such as cough, sore throat, skin rash, diarrhoea and/or vomiting, constipation, headache and eye conditions. To find your nearest pharmacy, visit

-Out of Hours GP service: If you need urgent medical advice or treatment when your GP practice is closed, you can call NHS 111. You will be given advice over the telephone or given an urgent appointment with a nurse or doctor at an out of hours GP practice.

The NHS 111 service might be busier than usual at peak times such as early evening so it might be better to dial 111 at a less busy time if your call isn’t urgent. This service is not for repeat prescriptions, test results or routine appointments.

-Dental help: If you need emergency dental help, calling 111 can also put you in touch with the emergency dental service, which has clinics across West Sussex.

-Mental health support: If you – or a loved one – are feeling worried, anxious or depressed, or feel you need help with your mental health, there is help available. Please call the Sussex Mental Healthline on 0300 5000 101 – it’s available Monday to Friday from 5pm to 9am, and 24 hours at the weekend and on bank holidays. For telephone support you can also call the Samaritans on 08457 909090.

Minor Injury Units and Urgent Treatment Centres across West Sussex:

-Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital Minor Injury Unit, Shripney Road, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, PO22 9PP.

Open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays. Telephone: 01243 865 418

-Horsham Hospital Minor Injury Unit, Hurst Road, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 2DR

Open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays. Telephone: 01293 600300 ext 7202

-Queen Victoria Hospital Minor Injury Unit, Holtye Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 3DZ

Open 8 am to 10pm, seven days a week, including bank holidays. Telephone: 01342 414375

-Crawley Hospital Urgent Treatment Centre, West Green Drive, Crawley, West Sussex, RH11 7DH

All centres are open 24 hours a day, seven days, including bank holidays. Telephone: 01293 600300 ext 4141

For more information visit

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