Norwich GP asks patients to consider other options before heading to A&E

Dr Simon Cooke, of Oak Street Medical Centre, helps a patient (posed by model).

Dr Simon Cooke, of Oak Street Medical Centre, helps a patient (posed by model). - Credit: Archant

A Norwich GP is asking people to always to seek help closer to home, after appointments available to book on the day were not taken up over the festive period.

Dr Simon Cooke, from Oak Street Medical Practice, urged people to use the NHS wisely to help it cope with pressures over New Year and in the busy months ahead.

He said: 'All hospitals are incredibly busy right now and we strongly urge our patients to think very carefully and choose the right care when they feel unwell and might have an urgent problem.'

Dr Cooke - who is the chairman on OneNorwich, the new alliance of GP practices in the city - added the first port of call is the local pharmacy, as pharmacists are highly trained and can offer advice and provide medicines for many conditions.

He said: 'Between Christmas and New Year, many GP Practices have made available more 'book on the day' appointment slots for people with urgent health problems.

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'At my own practice in Oak Street many of these appointments between Christmas and New Year were not taken up, perhaps because people did not think of calling us first.

'We absolutely recognise that some practices are not as fortunate as ours in having those appointments available and that they are under immense pressure themselves. But at least ring to ask, or try one of the other sensible options such as 111 or the walk in centre, rather than just go to casualty.

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'It's vital that people remember hospitals are hugely busy, and are only there for genuine serious accidents and emergencies. In particular if patients have cold or flu like symptoms, or please do not go to hospital casualty departments, but seek advice from a GP, pharmacist, 111 or the Norwich Walk in Centre first.'

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