Out-of-hours doctors, NHS 111, A&E, emergency dentists, pharmacies, and the Walk In Centre: Your ultimate guide on where to get medical help in Blackpool this winter

The Gazette has put together a handy guide of NHS services on the Fylde coast ahead of the winter months
The Gazette has put together a handy guide of NHS services on the Fylde coast ahead of the winter months
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If you're looking for medical help on the Fylde coast this winter, but are unsure which service would be best, then this guide is for you. Bookmark it on your computer, tablet, or phone for easy access, or print it off and keep it safe.

It covers self-care, pharmacies, GPs, urgent treatment centres (formerly the Walk-In Centre and Same Day Health Centre), the NHS 111 helpline, emergency dentists, A&E, and 999.

It comes after Wendy Swift, the boss at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, urged the public to do all they can to ease the pressure on Emergency Department staff as winter approaches.

Fell unwell or have a minor injury?

Minor illnesses, health problems, and injuries can be treated with plenty of rest and a well-stocked medicine cabinet.

Health chiefs recommend keeping stocks of pain relief, such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen, which are effective at relieving most aches and pains.

They also help with colds by reducing aches, pain, and high temperatures. Paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen also help to reduce the inflammation seen in arthritis and sprains.

Bear in mind, however, that aspirin must not be given to under-16s, while ibuprofen should be taken with caution if you have certain conditions, such as asthma. Speak to a pharmacist if you're unsure.

Pregnant women should not take ibuprofen.

Antihistamines can be useful in dealing with allergies or insect bites. They're also helpful if you have hay fever.

They come in cream form or as tablets.

Creams soothe insect stings and bites, and rashes and itching from stinging nettles.

Tablets control hay fever symptoms and calm minor allergic reactions to food. They also help calm itchiness during chickenpox.

Some antihistamines may cause drowsiness.

Fever, diarrhoea, and vomiting can lead to water and essential mineral loss, and can lead to dehydration.

Oral rehydration salts, available at pharmacies, are an easy way to help restore your body's natural balance of minerals and fluid, and help your recovery.

They don't fight the cause of your illness, such as a virus or bacteria.

Diarrhoea is caused by a range of things, such as food poisoning or a stomach virus, and can happen without warning. It's a good idea to keep an anti-diarrhoea medicine at home.

Remedies can quickly control the symptoms, though they don't deal with the underlying cause.

Don't give anti-diarrhoea medicines to children under 12 as they may have undesirable side effects.

If you have stomach ache or heartburn, a simple antacid will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief.

Antacids come as chewable tablets, tablets that dissolve in water, or in liquid form.

A well-prepared first aid kit can help treat minor cuts, sprains and bruises, and reduce the risk of cuts becoming infected.

It should contain the following items:

* bandages – these can support injured limbs, such as a sprained wrist, and also apply direct pressure to larger cuts before being treated in hospital

* plasters – a range of sizes, waterproof if possible

* thermometer – digital thermometers that you put in your mouth produce very accurate readings; an under-arm thermometer or an ear thermometer are good ways to read a baby or young child's temperature

* antiseptic – this can be used to clean cuts before they're bandaged, and most can treat a range of conditions, including insect stings, ulcers and pimples; alcohol-free antiseptic wipes are useful to clean cuts

* eyewash solution – this will help wash out grit or dirt in the eyes

* sterile dressings – larger injuries should be covered with a sterile dressing to prevent infection until treatment can be given by a health professional

* medical tape – this is used to stick dressings on the skin and can also be used to tape an injured finger to an uninjured one, creating a makeshift splint

* tweezers – for taking out splinters; if splinters are left in, they can cause discomfort and become infected

Need advice from an expert, or are you unsure which service you require?

Pharmacists offer a range of health services. As well as dispensing prescriptions and other medicines, pharmacies can give free and confidential advice and treat a variety of common illnesses and complaints, saving you a trip to your GP.

The NHS has a handy pharmacy finder here.

The 111 telephone service is free and available round-the-clock. You should call it if you urgently need medical help or information but your situation is not life-threatening.

You will then be directed by a fully-trained medical adviser to the best local services for fast and effective treatment.

Depending on the situation, the 111 team can connect you to a nurse, emergency dentist or even a GP, and can arrange face-to-face appointments if they think you need one.

Advisers can also assess if you need an ambulance and send one immediately if necessary.

Family doctors - how to get an appointment out-of-hours

If you have an illness that won't go away, or an injury that will not heal, you should make an appointment with your GP.

If you need to see a GP outside the surgery's normal opening hours, phone the surgery and your call will be forwarded to an out-of-hours service.

You can even access family doctor services in the evenings and weekends, and can see a range of clinicians, including GPs, nurses, and health care assistants.

Anyone registered with a Blackpool, Fylde or Wyre doctor is now able to make an appointment in the evening, from 6.30pm until 8pm, and at weekends, from 8am until 8pm.

These additional appointment times are booked by calling your GP practice as usual, and will be at the Whitegate Health Centre in Whitegate Drive for people registered with GPs in Blackpool, and either at the Fleetwood Health and Wellbeing Centre in Dock Street, or the Freckleton Health Centre in Douglas Drive for those living in Fylde and Wyre.

Urgent treatment centres

Earlier this year, Blackpool's Walk-In Centre, in Whitegate Drive, and Fleetwood's Same Day Health Centre, in Dock Street, were re-branded as Urgent Treatment Centres.

The move came after changes to the way both services work.

While the Walk-In Centre never traditionally offered appointments and the Same Day Health Centre never offered a walk-in service, both now offer both - with the re-naming done to avoid confusion among patients.

Urgent treatment centres are usually a GP-led service, open for at least 12 hours a day, every day of the week, every week of the year, including bank holidays - and offering pre-bookable appointments.

They have access to simple diagnostics such as swabs and pregnancy tests and have access to x-ray facilities, as well as a range of other services, including advice of sexual health, wound care, and health screening.

They can also issue prescriptions and e-prescriptions.

Pre-booked appointments are available at both services by calling 111 between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week, or you can walk in.

Emergency dentists

The emergency dental service in Blackpool is provided at the Whitegate Health Centre, in Whitegate Drive. You do not have to be registered with a dental surgery to access it.

It is open from 9am until 5pm and from 5.30pm until 9pm from Monday to Friday, from 10am until 5pm on Saturdays, and from 10am until 3pm on Sundays.

Times may be different on bank holidays.

For an appointment, call 0300 123 4010. The service does not offer a walk-in service.

Treatment is charged at the standard NHS rates:

* £21.60 for emergency treatment such as pain relief or a temporary filling

* £21.60 for a band one course of treatment, which covers examination, diagnosis (including X-rays), advice, a scale and polish if needed clinically, and preventative care

* £59.10 for a band two course of treatment, which covers everything listed above, plus further treatments such as fillings, root canal work, and removal of teeth

* £256.50 for a band three course of treatment, which covers everything listed in bands one and two, plus crowns, dentures, bridges, and other laboratory work.

Blackpool Victoria Hospital's A&E, and 999

Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments treat patients with serious or life-threatening illnesses and injuries. You should only call 999 or visit A&E in an emergency.

If you do not need A&E, use another more appropriate service. It will save you time and could save lives.

If you go to A&E with a non-emergency condition, you could be told to visit another service, such as your GP or an urgent treatment centre.

A&E needs to be kept free to treat those in need of care for serious life-threatening injuries or illnesses.

Be ready for winter

Flu vaccines are available for over 65s, children aged two and three (through their GP) and in school years one, two, three, four, and five (through their school).

Those who are pregnant can call their GP, pharmacist or midwife. Visit nhs.uk/fluvaccine or click here for more information.

If you catch the flu and you're otherwise healthy, you can look after yourself at home by resting, keeping warm, and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

If you feel unwell and have a fever, you can take paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen to lower your temperature and relieve aches. Again, children under 16 should not be given aspirin.

Stay off work or school until you feel better. For most, this will take around a week. See your GP if your symptoms get worse or last longer than a week.

Remember, antibiotics do not treat the flu virus.

It is important to look after yourself and your loved ones during the winter, because cold weather can be bad for health.

If you start to feel unwell, even if it's a cough or a cold, don't wait until it gets more serious - seek advice from a pharmacist.

Keep your medicine stocked up with the essentials: painkillers, cold and flu remedies, plasters, and a thermometer.

If you're not very mobile, are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease, heat your home to at least 18C.

Keep your bedroom at 18C all night if possible, and keep the window closed.

During the day, you may prefer your living room to be slightly warmer.

To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), babies should sleep in rooms heated to between 16C and 20C.

If you're under 65, healthy, and active, you can safely have your home cooler than 18C if you're comfortable.

Draw the curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts.

Remember to check up on older neighbours, relatives, and those with heart or breathing problems, to make sure they are safe and well during periods of very cold weather.

There are grants, benefits, and advice available to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating, or help with bills. To find out if you are eligible for Winter Fuel Payments, click here or call 0800 731 0160 (8am-6pm Mon-Fri) or (0800 731 0464 (textphone).