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Choosing well helps both patient and NHS; 27 HEALTH THE PROFESSIONALS Welsh mental health charity Hafal has become a Choose Well Champion for Wales. Here chief executive Alun Thomas explains why choosing the correct NHS service is essential...

CHOOSING the right NHS service to access, and when, is essential for both patients and the NHS itself.

For patients, accessing the service that best meets their needs means a better and more appropriate service - and less chance of being referred from one place to another.

For the NHS, it means that pressure can be taken off costly emergency services when people access more appropriate services more suited to their needs.

Last month Hafal announced that it has been chosen as the inaugural 'Choose Well Champion' for Wales by Unison Cymru which is promoting the NHS Wales campaign to its many members.

As the largest trade union within the NHS in Wales, Unison represents staff across the Welsh Ambulance Service and health boards across Wales.

Hafal is one of the first employers in Wales to become a Choose Well Champion and deliver the campaign to its clients and staff.

As a Choose Well Champion we will run a two-tiered all-Wales campaign focusing on providing thousands of clients across Wales with Choose Well information and tools which provide immediate and accessible guidance on choosing the right service, and on providing our 200-plus staff across Wales with key information on which services to access and when.

This will give us an opportunity to provide a really valuable service to both our staff and clients and enhance their wellbeing.

One of Hafal's main campaigning points is that patients and carers in Wales should be as informed as possible about services and empowered to make a choice about how they use those services.

If you know what services are available, and which services should be accessed in what situation, you are more likely to make an informed choice and to get a better and more timely service which fits your needs.

As a charity, we also support a prudent healthcare approach to providing services, where highend services are reserved for those who need them most, and consequently resources are focused on the people who are most unwell.

By signposting people to appropriate services we can help ensure that those with the greatest needs have more ready access to the services they need, and that those with less acute illnesses can access services intended for their level of need.

Of course, this approach makes sense for service providers: Emergency departments and 999 services are for people with life-threatening or serious conditions which need immediate attention, so if patients with minor illnesses and injuries can be signposted to more appropriate services, this will lessen the pressure on those emergency services.

We call upon other third sector organisations to convey this vital information to their clients and staff. As we approach the toughest season of the year, let's hope more and more people in Wales will Choose Well when it comes to using their NHS.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 9, 2015
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