Are you ready to look after yourself?

With winter approaching, West Midlands Ambulance Service are reminding us to help the NHS by helping ourselves.

Accidents waiting to happen!West Midlands Ambulance Service is backing a campaign by the NHS which encourages the public to take control of their own health and wellbeing. The primary focus of Self Care Week is on the public, people with long term conditions and their carers, which is a key area of work for the ambulance service.  By making sure people are prepared, there is a significant potential to reduce the number of 999 calls and help keep hospital admissions down.

The reality is that many people visit hospitals with minor illnesses and injuries that could often be better treated at home using simple remedies. Figures from the NHS Information Centre show that over 47,000 people attended A&E unnecessarily between November 2010 and February 2011 – they could have been treated by their pharmacist or GP or didn’t need any form of medical intervention at all.  This puts an enormous strain on the NHS.

WMAS Director of Nursing, Sandy Brown, said: “It is really important that people use the NHS wisely.  This could be visiting a pharmacist for health advice about anything from a cough or cold through to aches and pains, and other everyday illnesses.

“By ensuring you have a range of over the counter medicines for common conditions you can support the NHS by ‘Choosing Well’ and not putting a strain on services when you didn’t need to.  People can help the NHS during busy times by making sure they ‘choose well’ and consider what would best help their needs.  Information is also available on hospital, primary care and partnership trusts, and ambulance service websites.

This guide can help you decide:

Step 1: Keep your own medicine cabinet stocked with common remedies for coughs, colds and headaches as well as items such as sticking plasters for minor wounds and grazes

Step 2: Visit your local pharmacy for over-the-counter medicines and advice

Step 3: Call NHS Direct for advice on 0845 46 47 or log onto for a wide range of advice and information about many conditions.

Step 4: Use a ‘walk-in’ treatment centre or visit a minor injuries unit.

Step 5: Make an appointment with your own GP. There is also an out-of-hours service available in all areas of the region.

Step 6: In an emergency go to your local A&E department or call 999 for an ambulance.