Doing something small to #HelpMyNHS: self care is not no care

Dr Karen Eastman
Dr Karen Eastman

We all become unwell from time to time and some people will live with long term health conditions, such as diabetes, on a day to day basis.

I often hear my patients say “give us enough information so that we know when and how to stay away from ‘you lot’.” I don’t take it personally!

Do you know where to find reliable, safe information that gives you the detail you need to understand what is happening with your body and when you need to contact your GP? The NHS Choices website does just that. Just type in the symptom or condition that’s worrying you and the information is at your fingertips – what causes the condition, what medicines you can take safely yourself, when to ask for more help from your pharmacist or GP.

If you need more support to develop the knowledge and confidence to self-manage an existing long term health condition, please do also talk to your GP or Practice Nurse about a referral to the telephone- based Tailored Health Coaching Service.

If in doubt or you’re not computer savvy, then do drop into your local pharmacy or telephone 111. There are still 3.7million visits to A&E every year for self-treatable conditions which puts the NHS under avoidable strain – and 25 per cent of GP appointments are for illnesses that could be treated at home such as minor sprains, sports injuries, grazed knees, coughs, colds, blocked noses, fevers, sinusitis, headaches, ear ache, constipation, diarrhoea, hayfever and allergies.

Keeping well

And it’s not just online support you can access. Locally, our NHS has set up a series of support services to help keep people well.

To make some positive lifestyle changes to prevent or improve ill health, our local Wellbeing Hubs can provide information about free and low cost exercise programmes (including water based for those that struggle with joint pains), support to stop smoking and peer groups for those living with a long term health condition.

And it’s not just about physical health. Joining clubs and groups are a great way to meet new people. Did you know that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking, obesity and heavy drinking? If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, the NHS counselling service Time to Talk can link you with a specialist who understands the impact this can have on your life.

Remember there is often something you can do for yourself or your loved ones first, before contacting our GP Practices or hospitals – and in most cases you won’t need to wait for an appointment.

Please do your bit to #HelpMyNHS and yourself!

We’re asking everyone in our 5 Communities to do something small to #HelpMyNHS. By showing your support you’ll be demonstrating your commitment for our local NHS. Visit www.horshamandmidsussexccg.nhs.uk/HelpMyNHS / www.crawleyccg.nhs.uk/HelpMyNHS to find out more, or pick up one of our #HelpMyNHS flyers in your local GP Practice.

Dr Karen Eastman, local GP and NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Director, working in partnership with NHS Crawley CCG