NHS B&NES Clinical Commissioning Group is urging students in Bath to use local health services when they are feeling unwell rather than going straight to hospital.
In recent years there has been a rise in the numbers of students going to directly to the A&E Department and the Urgent Care Centre at Bath’s Royal United Hospital with non-emergency complaints.
This can lead to a delay in the treatment for those in life threatening circumstances including vulnerable patients with complex needs such as the elderly and very young.
Students are instead being asked to make sure they are registered with a GP in the area and to use the NHS’s non-emergency number, NHS 111 when their GP is closed.
NHS 111 is free from landlines and mobiles phones and is available 24 hours a day, 365 day a year.
Calls to the service are answered by highly trained advisers who are supported by healthcare professionals.
They ask the caller a series of questions to assess the patient’s symptoms and immediately direct them to the best medical care.
Students suffering with minor illnesses such as coughs or colds or who need emergency contraception can alternatively speak to a pharmacist for advice.
The NHS Choices website is also a useful resource for information on how to treat minor illnesses and injuries.
Those with more complex health problems such as ongoing headaches, depression or who want to arrange ongoing contraception are asked to make an appointment with their GP or call NHS 111 if your GP is closed.
Students are asked to only call 999 if they, or someone they are with, has a life-threatening emergency or is experiencing severe pain or injury.
Dr Ian Orpen, a local GP and Clinical Chair of the CCG, said: “We want to make sure that we can deliver to the right care to the right people at the right time so the message to students is not to go to A&E unless you think you have a very serious or life-threatening condition.
“In many cases they can receive the right treatment much more quickly from a local pharmacy, making an appointment with their GP or by calling NHS 111.
“All students are encouraged to register with a GP while they are in Bath so they can easily make an appointment when they need one.”
Find out more about local health services, where to find your nearest GP and information on self-care on the NHS Choices website at www.nhs.net.