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When you need treatment this Christmas… know your choices

16 December, 2010

This Christmas and New Year, if you feel ill or have an accident, would you know where to go and what to do?

The ‘Know your choices’ campaign was launched last month by NHS East Riding of Yorkshire, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and NHS Hull. The aim is to raise awareness with the public of minor injury units throughout Hull and the East Riding as well as directing them to the most appropriate services depending on their need.

Minor injury units are the best place to go for treatment and advice for less serious injuries such as sprains and strains, cuts and wounds, bumps and burns.  In fact, it can often be much quicker and easier to seek expert help in this way as there is no need to make an appointment; patients can simply walk in and be seen by a qualified nurse practitioner.

Pharmacies can offer general health advice and recommend medication to get you back up to full strength very quickly. If a pharmacist does feel you need more specialist help from a doctor or nurse, he or she will be able to advise you.

Self Care

Many everyday minor illnesses or symptoms (like colds, coughs, hangovers and sore throats) can be easily treated at home with a well stocked medicine cabinet and getting plenty of rest. It is good to be prepared with essential medicines and supplies in case you get ill, such as:

  • Paracetamol or aspirin
  • Anti-diarrhoeal medicine
  • Cough medicine
  • Indigestion remedy
  • Plasters
  • A thermometer
  • Antiseptic cream

Remember to stock up with remedies before pharmacies close for Christmas.

To prevent coughs and sneezes from spreading diseases, follow these simple rules:

  • Catch it – Germs spread easily. Always carry tissues and use them to catch your cough or sneeze.
  • Bin it – Germs can live for several hours on tissues. Dispose of your tissue as soon as possible.
  • Kill it – Hands can transfer germs to every surface you touch. Clean your hands as soon as you can.


NHS Direct

NHS Direct, the 24 hour nurse-led helpline, is available if you need advice, information or want to check whether you need to see a health professional. Call 0845 46 47 for advice on what to do if you or your family are ill, for information on particular health conditions, local health services or self-help and support organisations. NHS Direct is also available on the internet at


Pharmacists are qualified experts and can offer health advice and remedies without an appointment for a whole range of illnesses. For example, if you suffer from minor aliments such as coughs, cold, and mild symptoms (ie headache, nausea or diarrhoea), you could seek advice from the pharmacy which, in many situations, can help you. Pharmacists can help treat a wider range of illnesses because they can now sell many medicines that used to only be available on prescription. A prescription collection service is available at pharmacies and many now offer a free home delivery service. The opening hours of pharmacies will vary over the Christmas period – pharmacy opening times for the East Riding over the festive period are available on and opening hours for pharmacies in Hull can be found at or see attachments.

General Practitioner (GP)

Using your local GP surgery appropriately and responsibly will help ensure you get the best out of the healthcare services it provides. Your GP’s practice leaflet will give details of the services provided. If you book an appointment to see your doctor, but later realise you will be unable to attend, please tell the practice receptionist as soon as possible so that they can offer your appointment to another patient.

Minor injury units

Many local hospitals provide a minor injuries service where you can get treatment for less serious injuries, such as small cuts, bumps, burns, stings, sprains and even simple fractures*. Details of local Minor Injuries Units and their opening times are attached.

Out of Hours Service

A comprehensive range of healthcare workers, including general practitioners and first contact practitioners, are available should you need urgent medical care and advice at any time when your surgery is closed. However, this service should only be used if you have an urgent medical problem that cannot wait until the next working day to be treated.

If you need medical care in the evening or on a weekend over Christmas all you have to do is call 0845 056 8060, and you will be put straight through to an Out of Hours Service Provider. The number can be called between 6.00pm and 8.00am Monday to Friday on normal working days, and from 6.00pm on Friday through to 8.00am on Monday. The service is available all day on bank holidays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day. However, these are not extensions of the normal daytime services, and should only be used if you have an urgent medical problem that cannot wait until the next working day to be treated.

Emergency Dental Services (normal working hours)

If you have a dental emergency, or need urgent dental care, you should contact your own dentist for advice and treatment first.  If you don’t have a dentist and need urgent or emergency dental treatment during normal working hours, please contact your local NHS Dentist , details can be found by calling NHS Direct 0845 46 47 or by visiting 

Emergency Dental Services (out of hours)

The Out of Hours Service operate from premises in the centre of Hull and can be accessed by calling 0845 056 8298 between 6.00 pm and 9.00 pm every evening (7 nights per week) and each Saturday, Sunday and all Bank Holidays between 9.00 am and 12 noon.

A patient who, having gone through the triage process will be managed as follows:


  • Necessitate emergency care will be directed to the nearest A&E department.


  • Directed to the General Dental Practice based in Hull for further assessment and the provision of treatment necessary to stabilise the condition.


  • Informed to contact their own GDP the following day or


  • If they have not got their own dentist they will be directed at a local Dental Practice or to PALS


Emergency Contraception

This service is available from family planning clinics, GP services and selected pharmacies. NHS Direct have full details of out of hours access arrangements.

A&E or Emergency Department

A trip to Accident and Emergency (A&E) should be a last resort, and should only be considered in real emergencies. Going straight to A&E can put the emergency services and hospitals under added pressure and unnecessary use of the service could prevent someone whose condition is more serious than yours from getting treatment. You should think carefully whether or not your condition/illness is an emergency, as you may be preventing others with life threatening conditions from getting immediate care.

Calling 999 for an ambulance does not mean that you will be seen quicker when you arrive at A&E. All patients are seen on the basis of medical need. Remember, 999 is for emergencies only.

Dr Gina Palumbo, Clinical Executive Chairman, NHS East Riding of Yorkshire, said: “We would like to wish everyone across the East Riding area a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year. I would like to encourage people to use health services wisely and appropriately over the festive period. This is always a busy time of year for urgent and emergency services, especially the general practice Out of Hours Service and Accident and Emergency. You can save yourself time and inconvenience by being aware of the whole range of NHS services that are available. If you do need advice about a minor illness or health problem over the Christmas period NHS Direct or a local pharmacist may be able to help.”

Simon Hunter, Director lead for urgent care at NHS Hull said:

"At this time of year, we naturally see an increase in the number of people using health services, and those such as A&E tend to come under particular strain. In order to make best use of the facilities we have available, we would urge people just to take a moment to think about the service which is best suited to their needs, and if unsure, to contact NHS Direct for advice.

"There are lots of options available to people living in Hull and across the East Riding, such as pharmacies and minor injury units, which are local, convenient and can often deal with problems on the spot. When you need treatment, using the appropriate service will help us to ensure our services remain as smooth and efficient as possible for patients over the festive period."

Dr David Hepburn, Medical Director at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said, “It is very important that people make appropriate use of the Accident and Emergency Department at Hull Royal Infirmary, which is extremely busy at this time of year. People who are suffering from a minor illness such as a cough or cold or diarrhoea or vomiting should see their local Pharmacy, or NHS Direct to be directed to the most suitable form of treatment for them. A&E is for accidents, emergencies and serious illnesses only.”

Accident and Emergency Departments (open 7 days a week, 24 hours)

Hull Royal Infirmary

Anlaby Road

01482 328541 

Scarborough Hospital

Woodlands Drive

01723 368111 

Scunthorpe General Hospital

Cliff Gardens 

01724 282282 

York District Hospital  

Wiggington Road

01904 631313            

Oxygen Services

The Homecare Helpline 0800 373580 will be open as normal (8.00am to 5.30pm) Monday to Friday except for 27 and 28 December and 3 January and the weekends where it will operate for emergency calls only.

Helpful information:

Know your limits

Many of us enjoy a drink but regularly drinking more than the recommended daily number of units (men: 3-4 units women: 2-3 units) could have an adverse effect on your health. For more information call DRINKLINE free on 0800 917 8282.

Treating coughs and colds

Remember antibiotics won’t help your defence against a cold. The best way to treat most colds, coughs or sore throats is plenty of fluids and rest. For more advice ask your pharmacist or GP.

Mental Health Advice

If you need someone to talk to over the holidays the Samaritans are there to help. Call them on 08457 90 90 90. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment service is open 24/7 throughout Christmas and the New Year on 01482 335790.

Drug and Alcohol Misuse Service

East Riding Partnership provides treatment for people with both alcohol and drug misuse problems, including advice, information, structured counseling and specialist prescribing. They can be contacted on 01405 608210 or 01262 458200. The service operates as normal, Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm over the festive period but is closed on weekends and Bank Holidays (27 and 28 December, and 3 January).


The Quays surgery will be open the same as the addictions services and patients will be able to use the out of hours service when closed.

Get the flu jab. Protect yourself and your family

People at risk of seasonal flu are encouraged to protect themselves by getting their annual free flu jabs. Everyone aged 65 and over is routinely offered the jab, as are younger people with long-term conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis, serious kidney and liver disease. This year, for the first time, all pregnant women will be offered the seasonal flu vaccination.  Simply contact your GP or practice nurse.

The best way to avoid flu is to get immunised, but in addition, people can protect themselves and those around them by practising good hand hygiene with the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ technique. This means carrying tissues, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, disposing of the tissue after one use, and cleaning hands as soon as possible with soap and water or an alcohol hand gel.


The new Department of Health website Winterwatch gives practical advice on keeping well when the weather is very cold as well as information on how local hospitals and ambulance services are coping with the increased demands on their services. Visit

*Treatment for fractures within the minor injuries service is only available at hospitals in the East Riding of Yorkshire.