HYWEL Dda health chiefs are asking people to help reduce the severe pressures across its services including A&E departments, Out of Hours service and GP practices.

If you or a loved one are unwell or injured, there may be other services that can provide the care you need:

• Online symptom checker: Check your symptoms online at NHS Direct Wales at www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/selfassessments/

• Self care - A lot of illnesses can be treated in your home by using over the counter medicine and getting plenty of rest. Keep a well prepared first aid kit at home: Bandages, plasters, thermometer, antiseptic, eyewash solution, sterile dressings, medical tape, and tweezers.

• Pharmacies – your local pharmacy can do much more than dispense medication and could save a trip to your GP or hospital. From treatment for low level injuries such as sprains and strains to free confidential NHS advice and treatment for a range of common ailments such as back pain, eye infections to chicken pox, your pharmacist can help. Find out what services are available at your local pharmacy by visiting www.hywelddahb.wales.nhs.uk/communitypharmacy

• NHS Direct Wales/Out of Hours services - telephone 111.

• Minor Injury Units (MIUs) – To find out the opening times visit www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/862/page/52065

Additionally, if you have a relative or loved one in hospital who has been passed fit to be discharged, help by arranging with the ward to help get them back home quickly if at all possible – this is better for them and helps to free up beds for other urgent care patients.

Ros Jervis, director of public health at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “With the countdown to the New Year underway, it’s fair to say that we are already experiencing some really difficult periods trying to deliver urgent and emergency care services.

“We have clear expectations about seeing and treating patients the way we want to, but we can’t do it alone and we urgently need the public to help us.

“Please follow Choose Well guidance and consider alternative forms of care if possible, and if you’re planning any festivities to see in the New Year, please remember to stay safe and well as this busy night of the year puts a lot of extra demand on our staff and partner organisations such as the ambulance service and police.”