IF you fall ill on Christmas Day but it’s not an emergency, do you know where to go?
What about forgetting your medication when going to visit relatives and your GP surgery is closed?
Well not a lot of people know about a nurse-led service, operating round-the-clock, 365 days a year, with no appointment necessary, known as Primary Care 24.
Located directly to the right of the Emergency Department at King’s Mill Hospital, it is basically an extension services offered by your GP.
“We want people to know we are here and makes sure patients are being treated in the right place at the right time,” said operations manager Neeley Browne.
One out of every four people who go to A&E could have been treated elsewhere or been self treated.
Every time someone goes to A&E and is discharged without needing further treatment, the cost to the NHS is £124.
Primary Care 24 is a social enterprise which operates independently of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, but the relationship is crucial.
Neeley added: “We can help relieve the pressure from A&E at certain times if there are people there who we can treat.
“But we are more of an extension of your GP surgery.”
People should still visit or phone their GP as a first port of call, but when surgeries are closed, calls automatically get put through to Primary Care 24.
The service can also help relieve pressure at GP surgeries.
Clinical lead Paul Gustard expects to be busy over the Christmas period with an increase in viruses, respiratory problems diarrhoea and vomiting.
“It’s a very busy time of year for A&E as well so it’s even more important people go to the right place first time,” Paul said.
One message Primary Care 24 want to get across is that if it is something you would normally contact your GP about, then they are the people to visit or contact if your GP surgery isn’t open.
But it is only one of a number of ways people can be treated for health problems that are not urgent. Pharmacies, GP surgeries and minor injuries units are all effective alternatives.
The service which has been running at the King’s Mill site for about 18 months has a patient group to get feedback and make improvements when necessary.
Member Stella Hall got involved after visiting Primary Care as a patient earlier this year. She attends regular meetings with staff and fellow members to go over patient feedback.
Primary Care 24 can be accessed during evenings, weekends and bank holidays – you can ring for an appointment by dialling your usual GP surgery telephone number.
Pharmacies can provide advice and treatment for a range of common illness and NHS Direct gives health advice and information by calling 0845 4647, or visiting www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk.