A campaign to help Oxfordshire residents understand where to go for urgent health advice begins today (10 March).

Launched by Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), the campaign will run for four weeks and feature adverts on buses, local newsletters, websites, and messages on social media to share advice with Oxfordshire residents about which health services to turn to for urgent health advice, depending on their condition and signposting them to OCCGs Choose Well app and website for more information.

Dr Paul Park, Deputy Clinical Chair for OCCG, said: “It’s not easy to choose the right health service when you or someone you care for is unwell. We want to help people be aware of what services are there for Oxfordshire residents, when to turn to which service, where those services are and when they are open.  There is also a Choose Well app developed by OCCG, so people can find all this out using their smartphone. “

The campaign is being launched to help raise awareness of the variety of health services available locally and how patients can use these services wisely ahead of the Easter bank holiday period when health services often come under increased pressure.

The education campaign also seeks to respond to feedback given to OCCG by members of the public during engagement activity on primary care services last summer (July 2014), when some residents reported they did not know they could drop in and get confidential health advice from pharmacists as a first option for quick health advice*. Anecdotal feedback also received by OCCG suggests some are still going to A&E for conditions that could be treated as well if not more quickly elsewhere due to a lack of awareness of alternative health care options.

Michael Leech, Chair of Oxford City Patient and Public Locality Forum, said; ““Our health and social care services have carried out major changes recently so public education campaigns like this by OCCG can be a real help for patients.”

There are a number of places to turn to for information to help you choose the best health service for your needs, including:

  • Download OCCG’s Choose Well app to your smart phone to find health services closest to where you are in Oxfordshire. Visit the app store to download the app for Android or iOS operating systems.  See http://bit.ly/iphoneappchoosewell or
  • Visit OCCG’s website for more information about local services http://www.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk/your-health/choose-well/
  • Visit NHS Choices, an NHS website with a symptom checker and information on health services local to you with a postcode checker. Visit www.nhs.uk
  • Call NHS 111 available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 111 if you need health advice at the evening or weekend or if you are not sure which service can help you best.

Health services available locally include;

  • Pharmacies – You can drop in and ask for confidential advice at pharmacies across the county. Some are also open during the evening and weekends. For information on opening hours at your local pharmacy search using your postcode on NHS Choices at http://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Pharmacy/LocationSearch/10
  • GP practices – You can book appointments online or call the practice to see whether you need a GP appointment or whether another health service could help you better. During the evening and weekends, call NHS 111 if you need to see a GP quickly.
  • Minor Injury Units (MIU) and First Aid Units (FAU) – You can drop in for health advice on less serious injuries. For a full list of MIUs and FAUs, where they are and when they are open, follow this link http://bit.ly/sIEl2A
  • Eye emergencies – If you have an eye emergency call the Oxford Eye Hospital 24 hours a day on 01865 234800, they will assess your issue over the telephone and offer you an appointment. For details on when to go to the emergency eye clinic visit their website http://www.ouh.nhs.uk/eye-hospital/departments/emergencies/default.aspx

The emergency eye clinic at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford is open between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, 10am until 4pm on Saturday and 10am until 2pm at the weekend.

  • Urgent dental care – If you need to urgent dental advice or treatment in the evening or during the weekend, call the Out of Hours dental helpline on 0845 345 8995 from 6.30 to 9.30pm, Monday to Thursday, 6.30-10pm on Friday’s, 9am to 1pm and 2-6pm at the weekend and 9am to 5pm and 6-9pm on Bank Holiday’s.
  • Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) – For life threatening conditions call 999 for an ambulance. You should go to A&E if you are badly hurt or are seriously ill with a life-threatening condition. There are A&E departments at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, the Horton Hospital in Banbury, Great Western Hospital in Swindon and the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.