AS the cold weather continues and seasonal illnesses like flu and tummy bugs begin to circulate, pressure on the NHS increases.

The NHS in Worcestershire is highlighting the telephone health service that is available in Worcestershire to help ensure people are going to the right services first time.

If people are generally fit and healthy, in most instances they will not need A&E or 999 and accessing more suitable healthcare could result in being seen quicker.

Health bosses are asking that A&E and 999 is only used for emergencies such as heavy blood loss, chest pains, loss of consciousness or broken bones.

Ruth Davoll, urgent care lead for South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We ask the public to think before they go to A&E or call 999. These services need to be free to deal with real emergencies and should only be used in genuine emergency situations.

“Telephone services such as NHS Direct are designed to offer answers, reassurance, advice and support you need as well as being convenient and open around the clock.”

NHS Direct makes it easy for people to access healthcare advice when they need medical help fast, but it’s not a life-threatening situation. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide medical advice, put people in touch with the right service, arrange to have them seen by a doctor or call them an ambulance.

The service is manned by trained call handlers with nurses on site to offer support if needed. Callers’ symptoms are assessed and they are given the healthcare advice they need or are directed immediately to the right service.

For more information about Worcestershire health services, see