Well is it just me or did that seem to have come around very quickly? It’s Christmas time again already. Like many of my colleagues, I have pulled the short straw and will be working during the festivities. It will probably be extremely busy too if the last few weeks are anything to go by. On the 17th December the call rate to the London Ambulance Service was the highest ever recorded.
While most of us sensible folk imagine that every call was deserving of an emergency response, sadly as you will know from some of my previous posts that this isn’t always the case. For example, I saw a healthy young woman this week who called 999 for abdominal pain. She had been having it for the last year or so. She never had any other worrying symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting or fever. It came approximately once every month and went away again after a few days and it always coincided with her period……….. are you thinking what I’m thinking?
So how can you help us during this busy time? Well to start with stock up on home remedies and a basic first-aid kit. Paracetamol costs only 16 pence for a packet of 16 tablets in a well known chemist and is good for simple aches, pains, cough and cold symptoms (and may have relieved the symptoms for the aforementioned lady enough to prevent her making a 999 call and subsequent visit to A&E ~ although perhaps I am being overly optimistic with that thought!) Antacids are also handy to have around for those who over indulge in the seasonal offerings. They usually work within five or ten minutes if it is a case of simple indigestion rather than a heart attack (in the latter they don’t relieve your symptoms at all!) ~ Do always read the instructions for use on the packet.
Make sure that you have the telephone number for your local out-of-hours GP co-operative to hand. They will see you for all the things that your normal GP would have seen you for, but they come into play after surgery closing time, which is very handy during the evenings, weekends and holiday periods.
Consider calling NHS Direct 0845 46 47 if you need advice on health issues or to find out where is the nearest open chemist.
Don’t forget about using your local Minor Injury or Urgent Care Centre rather than A&E department for minor sprains, breaks, injuries and illnesses. If you really need to attend A&E think about taking yourself there under your own steam or get someone to drive you and save the ambulances for those who are truly immobile. The commonly held belief that you will be seen quicker if you arrive by ambulance really is just a myth.
I hope that you and your family have a healthy and safe Christmas!