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Choose Well Cheshire

NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group is launching a campaign to encourage local people to continue to Choose Well when they need care.

Many local health services are already experiencing demand akin to winter, at a time when COVID-19 vaccinations are continuing apace and with an important flu vaccination programme on the horizon.

#ChooseWellCheshire is aimed at better equipping local residents with the information they need to make the right choice, first time. Please help us to share these important messages by keeping an eye out for more information across all CCG channels, including targeted local signposting related to:

Around 80% of all care in the UK is self care. The majority of people feel comfortable managing everyday minor ailments like coughs and colds themselves, particularly when they feel confident in recognising the symptoms and have successfully treated using an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine before.

Empowering people to have the confidence and information to look after themselves when they can, and only visit the GP when they need to, gives people greater control of their own health and encourages healthy behaviours that help prevent ill health in the long-term. In many cases people can take care of their minor ailments, reducing the number of GP consultations and enabling GPs to focus on caring for higher risk patients, the very young and elderly, managing long-term conditions and providing new services.

More cost-effective use of NHS resources also allows money to be spent where it’s most needed and improve health outcomes.

NHS 111 is much more than a helpline – if you’re worried about an urgent medical concern call 111 to speak to a fully-trained advisor.

Depending on the situation, they can find out which local service can help you, connect you to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP and arrange a face-to-face appointment if they think you need one or they can help you get self-care advice.

In November 2020, NHS 111 First was introduced across Cheshire to encourage people with an urgent - but not serious or life-threatening - medical need to contact NHS 111 before going to A&E.

Where appropriate, the service will book a time slot for attendance at an emergency department or – if appropriate – may book or direct people to an alternative local service such as an urgent treatment centre, GP practice or pharmacy.

This helps to prevent crowding in emergency departments while, at the same time, ensuring people get the right treatment in the right place, first time – and as close to home as possible.

People will still be able to walk into any A&E department. This will not change and nobody who attends an emergency department unannounced needing urgent treatment will be turned away.

However, by contacting NHS 111 first, people will be able to get a timed appointment in an emergency department when they need one, reducing the time they spend in the waiting room and helping to minimise the risk of spreading Coronavirus (Covid-19).

To find out more, watch this October 2020 webinar.

NHS 111 Online

NHS 111 online uses the same clinical algorithms as the 111 phone service, taking you through questions about your symptoms to receive tailored advice on what to do next and where to go. 

You can access NHS 111 online on a smartphone, tablet or computer - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – and if needed you will be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist or GP. 

This new way to access NHS 111 provides you with another convenient way to get the right help or advice when you need it. 

Whether over the phone or online, NHS 111 will ensure that you get the right care, from the right person, as quickly as possible. 

So, if you think you need urgent medical help, call NHS 111 or visit ‘Help Us Help You’ know what to do. 

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s dedicated 24/7 all age urgent mental health crisis line is available on 0800 145 6485. An online support hub is also available at:

Key messages:

1. We’re here for you when you need us. The Freephone helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

2. Anyone can be in need of urgent mental health support - the service is available to people of all ages, including children and young people

3. The updated Freephone number 0800 145 6485 will connect you straight to a dedicated team of local mental health professionals to provide help and support when you need it most.

The new Freephone number ensures completely free access for all people, of all ages, across Cheshire West, Cheshire East and Wirral, to urgent mental health support.

Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.

1. Connect with other people

Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. They can:

  • Help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth
  • Give you an opportunity to share positive experiences
  • Provide emotional support and allow you to support others

2. Be physically active

Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • Raising your self-esteem
  • Helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them
  • Causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood

3. Learn new skills

Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • Boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem
  • Helping you to build a sense of purpose
  • Helping you to connect with others

Even if you feel like you do not have enough time, or you may not need to learn new things, there are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life.

4. Give to others

Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
  • giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
  • helping you connect with other people

It could be small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.

5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.

Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.


To access an NHS depression and anxiety self-assessment please click here

  • To access the respiratory parent advice sheet click here
  • To access the respiratory patient information sheet click here

Dr Ravi Jayaram has teamed up with the CCG and created a short video explaining the rise in respiratory conditions in young children and what parents should be on the look out for! To watch the video, click the link below:

If you need urgent dental treatment, contact your usual dental practice. They may be able to see you or direct you to an urgent dental care service. If you don't have a regular dentist, contact NHS 111 for advice on where you can get urgent care.

The cost of emergency dental treatment is currently £21.60. You may be advised to make another appointment for a separate course of non-urgent treatment. If this happens, you'll have to pay a second charge in the relevant treatment band. Find out more about NHS dental charges.


Sprains are due to injured ligaments and often affect the thumb, wrist, ankle and knee. Typical symptoms of a sprain include pain around a joint, swelling, tenderness, and an inability to use the joint normally. Swelling often occurs almost immediately, whereas the onset of bruising may be delayed. Sprains are common, but often go unreported.

Ankle sprain is the most common type of sprain, often occurring during sports and resulting in 1 to 1.5 million Accident & Emergency (A&E) department visits in the UK each year. You’re at higher risk of suffering sprains if you don’t warm up properly when taking part in sport, or if you exercise when you’re tired.

Most sprains get better by themselves and usually resolve within six to eight weeks, depending on where the injury is and how bad it is. This is opposed to a fracture – a broken bone – which usually requires medical investigation and treatment.

So what can you do to get better?

  • PRICE Protecting the affected limb, resting it, and using ice, compression bandages and elevation (PRICE) are useful for treating injuries initially. Avoid heat, alcohol, running (or any other form of exercise) and massage (HARM) in the first 72 hours after an injury.
  • If you’ve suffered a sprain, gently move your limb in all possible directions (as soon as your pain allows) to increase and maintain flexibility. Avoid immobilising the affected body part – except in severe ankle sprains, where immobilisation can lead to a quicker recovery.
  • Painkillers and ointments are widely available over the counter and can be used to relieve pain and reduce swelling. If you need help with these talk to your pharmacist.

Seek medical advice if your symptoms signs include:

  • Your pain is severe and not controlled by over-the-counter medication.
  • Your symptoms don’t start to improve after three to four days of self-treatment.
  • You can’t walk because of your injury, or an affected leg ‘gives way’ and makes you walk unsteadily.
  • The affected body part is deformed, or shows lumps or bumps.
  • You can’t move an affected joint.
  • Your skin over the affected area feels numb.
  • You notice more than only mild bruising and swelling.

More information can be found on the NHS website:

Lower back pain

Lower back pain describes tension, soreness and/or stiffness in the lower back, in most cases without a specific underlying cause. You’re not alone – lower back pain affects four in five people in the UK at some time in their life but lower back pain is rarely due to a serious underlying cause, even if you’re in quite a lot of pain.

Backs are made for moving. Despite your pain, try and get back to normal activities as soon as you can – the sooner, the better. Your back is likely to get better by itself within six to 12 weeks, and often sooner. Back pain usually gets better without medical treatment or surgery, even when a ‘slipped disc’ is responsible.

So what can you do to get better?

  • Simple back exercises, improving your posture, yoga
  • Avoid lying in bed and remain active as far as possible, even if you’re uncomfortable.
  • A hot bath or hot water bottle can ease pain from tense muscles, while cold from an ice pack or a bag of frozen can help relieve discomfort from sudden back pain.
  • ‘Rub-on’ (topical) treatments and pain killers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are effective in most cases. Stronger medicines, such as codeine are an additional option when simpler ones are not working. Ask your pharmacist for advice.
  • Take the strain off your back by trying different sleeping positions and putting a pillow between your legs or under your knees if you prefer lying on your back.
  • Try to stay at work or return to work as soon as you can and together with our employer consider options such as a phased return to work, altered hours, amended duties or workplace adaptations.

Seek medical advice if your symptoms signs include:

  • You have severe pain that gets worse rather than better.
  • You feel really unwell from your back pain.
  • You have a fever (a temperature of over 38°C, or 100.4°F) as well.
  • You have back pain that travels up into higher areas of your chest.
  • Your pain started after a major injury (such as a fall or an accident).
  • You have new back pain and you’re younger than 20 or older than 50 years.
  • You have night-time pain that affects your sleep.
  • You’ve become unsteady on your feet since your back pain started.
  • You’ve also been losing weight for no obvious reason.
  • You feel numb or notice ‘pins and needles’ in the area around your bottom (the ‘saddle area’), your genitals, or both of your legs.
  • You can’t keep your urine in.
  • You lose your bowel control

More information can be found on the NHS website:

Heartburn and indigestion are symptoms of pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen or chest. They often result from overeating, eating high fat meals or being overweight. Symptoms typically occur after meals.

Dyspepsia is commonly accompanied by belching and feeling bloated or sick. Common causes include acid reflux from your stomach, inflammation of the gullet, certain medicines (check the patient information leaflet), infection with a bug called helicobacter pylori (or H. pylori), or when part of the stomach squeezes through the diaphragm muscle into the chest (known as hiatus hernia).

Less common, a stomach ulcer or cancer of the stomach or gullet may be responsible. Sometimes, no underlying cause can be found (this is known as functional dyspepsia).

So what can you do to get better?

  • Reduce or stop smoking, which may help improve your symptoms.
  • Various drugs that neutralise the acid in your stomach (antacids) as well as other drugs called H2-receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are available without prescription over the counter at pharmacies and in supermarkets. It’s best not to take these medicines for prolonged periods without consulting a pharmacist or other health professional.
  • If you take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain killers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, regularly, consult a health professional in case these could be the cause of the indigestion.

Seek medical advice if your symptoms include:

  • Severe, persistent (longer than three weeks), worsening and unexplained pain in your upper abdomen – particularly if occurring together with other symptoms, such as pain in your chest, breathlessness, sweating, feeling sick or vomiting
  • You vomit blood or dark lumps (like ‘coffee grounds’).
  • Your stool colour has become very dark (looking like tar). But remember that if you take iron tablets your stool can also become black – a harmless side effect which will go when you stop taking iron.
  • You feel faint, or you’ve collapsed.
  • You develop difficulties with swallowing.
  • You suffer from unexplained fever, night sweats, weight loss for no apparent reason, or you notice a swelling or mass in your upper abdomen.

More information can be found on the NHS website:

Pharmacists are experts in medicines and can use their clinical expertise, together with their practical knowledge, to advise you on minor health concerns, such as coughs, colds, aches and pains, as well as healthy eating and stopping smoking.

Pharmacists can also help you decide whether you need to see a medical health professional.

Many pharmacies are open until late and at weekends. You don't need an appointment – you can just walk in. Find a pharmacy near you. Most local pharmacies also have consultation rooms for private conversations. You can also have a confidential conversation with your pharmacist without anything being noted in your medical records, which you may prefer.  

Getting advice from a local pharmacist is the best first step for a minor health concern. But if you think you or your family members are more seriously ill, then a GP or hospital may be more appropriate.