Health chiefs have reiterated their request that people in West Dunbartonshire use health services appropriately as winter starts to bite.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde says people can stay safe by using its health services wisely.

A survey of adult Emergency Departments (EDs) within Greater Glasgow and Clyde has revealed that many patients are regularly presenting with minor illness or injury.

In West Dunbartonshire the Vale of Leven Hospital has a dedicated minor injury unit so by using it appropriately patients can get the right treatment quickly and ensure the emergency departments (ED) are better able to cope.

Based on recent activity, medics have identified a list of the top ten illnesses that do not require a trip to ED.

Instead, patients should seek advice or treatment from either NHS Inform, their local pharmacist, optometrist, dentist, NHS 24 or their GP/ out of hours GP.

The top ten includes cold symptoms, nasal congestion or a simple sore throat; skin complaints such as acne, eczema or athlete’s foot; cold sores, warts or verrucae; period pain; earache; haemorrhoids (piles); hay fever or mild allergies; head lice / scabies; mouth ulcers/dDental pain and thrush.

Alastair Ireland, emergency department clinical director at Glasgow Royal Infirmary said: “We are all aware of what a precious resource our NHS is and we need to use it wisely, and that is particularly important in winter.

“Those with serious or life-threatening illness and injuries will always be given priority, meaning those with less serious issues may face longer waits. This is the beginning of winter and we really need patients to carefully consider the best place to be if they are unwell, in order that those who really need hospital care can receive it.

“We’ve come up with a list to give patients some guidance on when it’s correct to seek emergency treatment and when it’s not. Hopefully it means that they seek advice from the correct place, meaning they are treated quicker elsewhere, allowing us to concentrate on what we should be treating – real emergencies.”

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has dedicated, nurse-led Minor Injury Units (MIUs) at Stobhill (9am -9pm every day), the Vale of Leven (8am -9pm every day), and New Victoria Hospitals (9am -9pm every day), where 100 per cent of patients are usually seen and treated within four hours.

MIUs can treat cuts and grazes, insect bites, minor burns, sprains and strains, limb injuries like a broken ankle, broken wrist etc and foreign bodies in ears or up noses.

However, they are unable to treat more serious conditions such as major injuries, poisoning, fever, breathing difficulties stomach pains, vomiting or diarrhoea, rashes or allergic reactions.

There are four adult Emergency Departments within Greater Glasgow and Clyde – at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley and Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock. All adult ED departments also have facilities to treat minor injuries but patients will always be seen quicker at the stand-alone MIUs.

The advice comes just a few weeks after the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow experienced its busiest day ever since opening in 2015 with a record number of patients being seen in 24 hours.

On that day, just over half of those treated were suffering from a minor illness which could have been dealt with elsewhere.