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Rugby team enlisted to help reduce GP and A&E demand



A CCG has teamed up with a local rugby squad to raise awareness about pressures on the NHS and choosing the right service.

The Widnes Vikings feature in the campaign aimed at encouraging patients to use altenatives to GP practices and A&E departments when they don’t need to attend.

NHS Halton CCG is hoping it will encourage Widnes and Runcorn patients to make better use of existing urgent care centres and pharmacies.

The campaign, which suggests patients ‘beat the scrum’, includes a video where Widnes Vikings head coach Denis Betts quizzes players on where they should be going with a cough or cold.

He asks: ‘Let’s go over this one more time. You’ve got a cold Gerrard, where do you go?’

Prop forward Alex Gerrard responds: ‘My GP?’

But he is corrected by his team and coach, who remind him to go to the pharmacy first with self-limited illnesses.

In another video, the rugby team points out that the 4,300 people who visited local A&Es unnecessarily last year could ‘fill the Widnes north stand’, while the average A&E wait would span ‘three rugby league matches’.

If patients choose the urgent care centre instead, ‘you’ll be out two minutes after half time’, the team points out.

NHS Halton CCG chief operating officer Dave Sweeney said: ‘We’re delighted to launch this campaign. At a time when the NHS faces real pressure to save money and ensure that its resources are being used in the most effective way possible, this campaign has a vital message.’