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Help the NHS to help you

Winter has arrived and with this the demand for NHS services increases significantly. Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GWH) is experiencing increased pressures, with people attending its accident and emergency department (ED) which has meant some less urgent patients attending the ED have had to wait longer than usual.

Many people automatically turn to the hospital if they feel they cannot get a quick appointment elsewhere, but GWH is asking them to take a few minutes to think about whether that really is the best option for them.

We can all help by not over-burdening the service and using it only when we need to.

Consider calling NHS 111, the non-emergency number to speak to a highly trained adviser. Callers will be asked a series of questions to assess their symptoms and immediately directed to the best medical care for them.

The service can also help patients access the GP out-ofhours service to receive treatment overnight or arrange an urgent GP appointment. In the case of serious injury or illness, NHS 111 can despatch an ambulance to the patient or advise them on emergency options.

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones. For immediate life-threatening emergencies always dial 999.

The NHS belongs to all of us, and everyone has a part to play in helping the NHS manage these pressures. If you are normally fit and well, you can help our doctors, nurses and paramedics by thinking carefully about alternative NHS services before calling 999 or going to ED.

That could include using the Walk-in Centre, the Urgent Care Centre, visiting pharmacists, who are expert in advising on common winter illnesses, or seeing your GP.

There is a range of on the day urgent care services available including:

Walk-in centre at Swindon NHS Medical Centre, Islington Street, Swindon - Open 8.00am-6.00pm, 7 days a week, including bank holidays.

Urgent Care Centre, Great Western Hospital site, Swindon - Open 24/7, 365 days a year

Children and young people’s clinic, from the age of three months to 18 years. Call 0300 111 0088 for your nearest clinic.

For more information about looking after yourself this winter, log on and visit which provides up-to-date and expert advice on a range of illnesses and complaints.

Changes to appointments

The practice has recently introduced some changes to the type of appointments we offer. Patients can still ask for an on-the-day telephone consultation with a GP or nurse, but appointments will now be limited to a set number of pre-bookable times. We have made this decision because our GPs were being asked to make between 20 and 30 calls a day, in addition to a full clinic. Whilst we appreciate that changes can be unsettling, the demand for telephone appointments was simply unsustainable. We anticipate that this change will free up the clinicians’ time to offer more routine and urgent face-to-face consultations and will ultimately enhance the service we provide to all our patients.

A message from your GPs

We are working hard to source and recruit new GPs to the surgery, but like many other surgeries across the country, the chronic shortage of doctors is making this process difficult. This means that we are simply not able to offer everybody the appointments they want, when they want.  The two GPs working at Eldene at present (alongside their locum colleagues) cannot safely work any longer hours than they are already, so we are also unable to offer the early or late appointments we know would benefit our working patients. We acknowledge that our patient list is growing all the time (it is currently just over 7,800) and understand that patients who have been with us for many years are finding these changes especially disappointing.

The partners and staff would like to thank you all for your understanding, and offer their assurances that we are working hard to improve access to appointments as quickly as possible.

A Guide to Avoiding Coughs and Colds

Every time you shake someone’s hand, wash yours. But don’t stop there! Wash them as much as possible, because running lots of water over your hands will dilute any germs and send them down the drain.

Keep your hands off your face. Your nose and your eyes are the most common places for germs to get in.

Go to bed. You need more sleep when you’re feeling under the weather and when you’re tired, your body isn’t fighting as hard, so try to sleep 8 to 10 hours a night.

Get your ‘flu shot! And get it early.

Build up with healthy food. You may think it’s hard to eat healthy on a regular basis, but eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables supports your immune system. And that’s a lot easier than fighting off the ‘flu.

Work out. Get those sweats on and exercise: working-out regularly enhances immune function.

Stay away! Keep your distance from people displaying symptoms like sneezing and coughing. While that strategy may seem obvious, it applies to more than just strangers and colleagues. Stay away from sick friends and family when possible.

Sanitise yourself. Keep sanitising gel or alcohol-based hand wipes on you at all times. But make sure that wipes are alcohol-based or they won’t be as effective.

Another reason to quit. Smoking increases the risk of infections by making structural changes in the respiratory tract and decreasing immune response. Smoking also destroys the little hair-like fibres inside our noses and this can help increase infection risks.

Did you just double-dip that chip? Beware of the dip. It may be harbouring more than savory salsa! Double-dippers may pass on germs to those who eat after them.

Another reason to shop… Our bags and purses pick up germs like we do, so you could be re-infecting yourself every time you pick up your handbag. Our suggestion: put away your cloth bags and purses and carry one made of easier-to-wipe-down vinyl or leather.

Your mum was right - don’t bite your nails! Biting your nails may be hurting you. Germs get under your nails and nibbling is a fast way to ingest them.

Try to smile! New research has found that happiness may help you. Positive thinking, playing with a pet and other pleasurable behaviors will boost your immune system.

You want me to sneeze where?! It may sound strange, but when you have to cough and sneeze, do so into the crook of your elbow, not into your hands. Since your hands are a common source of germs, doing that will prevent them from spreading. 



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