‘Choose Well’ and think before using the emergency medical care service today

UNISON Cymru Wales is today (12th January) calling for the people of Wales to ‘prepare well’ and ‘choose well’ ahead of the rain, gales and snow we are expecting imminently.

As the largest trade union within the NHS in Wales, UNISON represents staff across the emergency medical care service including the Welsh Ambulance Service and Health Boards.

Darron Dupre, UNISON Cymru Wales’ Ambulance Lead said,

“The emergency medical care service in Wales is under huge strain. Demand in Wales for emergency medical care is currently greater than the capacity to provide it.

“Current demand is made up of seriously unwell and life threatened patients who rightly need the incredible lifesaving skills of Paramedics, Nurses and Consultants. These patients must always be the number one priority for the emergency medical care services.

“Yet demand on the emergency medical care service is also made up of thousands of people who simply do not need to be calling 999 or going to Emergency Departments because they are not seriously injured, seriously ill or life threatened. For this group of patients there are usually alternative options which can usually be quicker than going to A&E.

“These ‘Choose Well’ options can include pharmacies, NHS Direct Wales, opticians, minor injury units, even self care as well as GPs and GP Out of Hours services.

“It is not only the system which is creaking but the pressures on staff is now absolutely critical. Supporting NHS staff to give world class emergency care to patients is the key reason why UNISON has led the promotion of the ‘Choose Well’ campaign to employers and workers across Wales because we can all play our part in reducing this demand”.

Dave Thomson, is a Welsh Ambulance Paramedic based in Dobshill, north Wales and UNISON Branch Secretary at the Welsh Ambulance Service UNISON Branch. Mr Thomson said,

“There are some very simple things that the public can do to help bring down demand at this critical time where the weather is likely to be wet, very cold and windy and where our streets are dark and icy.

  • Stock up on basic cold remedies, pain killers and collect any prescriptions you need as soon as you can.
  • If there is any risk of tripping or falling whilst the weather is cold and icy, then take extra care and give yourself extra time. Better still, if you can, stay safe, stay warm, stay home.
  • If it is not an emergency but you are unsure what medical care you need, then call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 at any time.
  • Try and find out where your nearest Minor Injuries Unit is because they specialise in cuts, sprains, bites and minor injuries and illnesses.
  • Look at the Choose Well website or download the Choose Well app for more information on what is the best and quickest place to get help for a medical problem at choosewellwales.org.uk
  • For any community minded and caring employers, whether in the public, private or voluntary sector, who wants to do their bit to help support the emergency medical care system in Wales, please contact UNISON at dupre@unison.co.uk to see how easily you can promote the ‘Choose Well’ campaign to your staff and community”.