Published Wed, 2011-10-12 10:19; updated 2 years ago.

People in Coventry and Warwickshire are being urged to "self-care" rather than rush to A&E with seasonal illnesses. 

Health chiefs at NHS Coventry and NHS Warwickshire have issued the appeal in a bid to ease the pressure on accident and emergency health services in the region. 

With cases of seasonal illnesses such as flu starting to increase, they are asking residents to use other available health services wherever possible, including caring for themselves at home. 

John Forde, acting director of public health for NHS Coventry and Coventry City Council, said: "At this time of year, it is expected that seasonal illness will increase and we are already seeing cases of respiratory problems, diarrhoea, vomiting and flu. 

"If you’ve got flu, the best thing to do is stay at home, drink plenty of fluids and take paracetamol. If symptoms persist, ring your GP surgery for advice. Think about contacting NHS Direct, speak to your local pharmacist or use the Coventry NHS Healthcare and Walk-in Centre for health information." 

Every autumn and winter, people who have had the diarrhoea and vomiting bug norovirus go to hospitals unnecessarily, either to A&E or to visit friends and family, and inadvertently pass it on to patients and staff. 

Helen King, deputy director of public health at NHS Warwickshire, said: "Suffering from norovirus can be an unpleasant experience, especially for young children and the elderly. Stopping the spread of the virus is important through good hygiene levels and staying away from vulnerable people both in healthcare settings and at home until you are clear of symptoms for 48 hours. 

"If your symptoms continue for more than three days or you feel severely dehydrated, seek medical attention immediately." 

Jill Foster, acting chief nursing officer at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, urged residents to go to A&E only in a real emergency. 

"A&E is a service for serious cases that need emergency treatment and many of the admissions seen at A&E could be treated elsewhere. We don't want people to waste their time unnecessarily in A&E unless it is an emergency and to actively seek treatment for minor illnesses in their local community." 

  • ADVICE AT HOME: NHS Direct on (0845 46 47) provides free and confidential advice and guidance from professional healthcare staff on how to get the right treatment for all kinds of non-emergency situations. People who live in Warwickshire can call Warwickshire Healthline on 03000 247 111 for health advice and information 24/7. 
  • SELF-CARE: Keep your medicine cabinet well-stocked  so you can easily treat everyday illnesses, such as coughs and colds. 
  • OVER-THE-COUNTER: Pharmacists can offer health advice and remedies over-the-counter for a range of illnesses such as coughs, colds, flu and minor cuts and injuries. You can find details of a pharmacy near you by visiting NHS Coventry and NHS Warwickshire websites.   
  • YOUR LOCAL GP: If you feel unwell and need to see a doctor, contact your surgery to make an appointment. If you need help registering with a GP surgery, contact NHS Coventry on 024 7652 6805 (office hours only). 
  • WALK- IN CENTRE: The walk-in centre, based on the edge of the city centre on the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital site, is open from 8am to 10pm every day. Call 0300 200 0060 to contact the centre.  There is also a walk-in centre at Hospital of St Cross in Rugby. 
  • ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY: You can find A&E departments at University Hospital, Clifford Bridge Road, Walsgrave, Coventry, CV2 2DX; Warwick Hospital, Lakin Road, Warwick, CV34 5BW and George Eliot Hospital, College Street, Nuneaton, CV10 7DJ . Or, if you need an emergency ambulance, call 999.
NHS Direct