Taking responsibility for your health could help save the NHS.

John Astley, local author and facilitator of Exmouth community education column, writes for the Journal.

Do you have a clear understanding of the role that you could play in looking after yourselves to support the NHS?

Having recently spent seven hours in RD&E on an ordinary Sunday afternoon I noticed that people attending the hospital were travelling further than I expected with a lot of the smaller injury units not fully staffed and the x-ray units closed over the weekend. Consequently, the waiting room was packed. It was chaos and it was evident that staffing numbers were woefully inadequate.

There were young mums with their little ones trying to keep smiling, elderly people waiting patiently and some teenagers with sports injuries. Without passing judgement, what I noticed was that I couldn’t see many people desperately in pain or discomfort.

The head nurse informed us that the local clinics would be fully operational and x-rays available after the weekend break and asked those who could return to please to go home and visit their local doctor or hospital the next day or throughout the week.

But of course nearly everyone remained waiting.

Eventually Sarah, a nurse, saw me, which led to us having an insightful conversation and, even though the hospital was extremely busy, she remained calm and very professional. Sarah suggested that at the weekends a high number of people attending the department didn’t need to be seen at A & E, and could easily wait for a consultation at their local GP surgery.

I was interested to know why so many people would come, knowing that there would be a considerable wait; Sarah felt that it was due to the waiting times to see local GPs. Many people wanted to be seen quickly with the knowledge that if they’re sitting in the waiting room in A & E, they will be seen and the problem resolved. Many parents would want to be reassured about their child’s cough or high temperature, rather than witnessing a fretful youngster.

My assessment of the waiting room was of a lot of worry and anxiety; had people lost touch in listening to themselves, their bodies, and to their common sense!

Through the power of advertising pharmaceutical companies tell us how we can treat ill-health. This often starts for parents with child care, being told to give medication to toddlers because of a minor cough. This continues with us into adult life, a belief that medication is the answer to many of our day-to-day health issues.

So, are we inadvertently contributing to the growing crisis now facing our NHS?

Using nature to support healing is now for many people a thing of past. Listening to your body for early signs to support healing is not a common way of dealing

with health today. Our immediate action is to seek an appointment to see the practice nurse, doctor or pharmacist, and to ask them to give us a quick fix with some form of medication.

Truly, no one knows your body as well as you do! When there is something wrong in your body, it will give you warning signs.

These warning signs can show up as: pain, fever or swelling - all signs that our bodies are working perfectly. Most of the time our body shows us what we need such as feeling tired so the best thing is to rest. Sleep is the biggest healer! Lack of appetite is another big one and one that we shouldn’t ignore- just for a few days if we are feeling unwell reduce your food intake whilst remembering to keep drinking water, or tea, to keep hydrated.

Is it time to reconnect with yourself, and educate your children to do the same?

A better understanding about your amazing body can offer support, and constant healing can be achieved by eating healthy, nutritious foods.

The NHS works tirelessly and to its absolute limit to support us all the way, but there is only that much it can do, and so much more we can do in supporting ourselves.

For more information visit www.Healthylivingwithpaolaroyal.co.uk