NHS England is urging people in the North East to see a pharmacist or make an appointment to see a GP for non-emergency health issues over Easter.
Although some GP practices are closed over the Easter bank holidays, the NHS has been working to ensure people can access a GP appointment or pharmacist should they need advice or treatment for a wide range of minor illnesses or ailments.
If people need urgent advice for something serious, but are not sure whether to go to A&E, the NHS 111 service provides advice from qualified clinicians and in some cases can even make a GP appointment direct. For most people, this will mean quicker treatment than attending an A&E department.
Dr Jonathan Slade, NHS England’s Deputy Medical Director, in Cumbria and the North East, and a practicing GP, said: “Many GPs have extended hours of opening and pharmacists across the region are open for business over the bank holidays, but please make sure you order your prescriptions early before the holiday weekend. We’d like to reassure people that if they call 111, they will be allocated an appointment should they need one. This is a particularly important for older people, people with long-term health conditions and for parents to know. There has been increased, sustained pressure and unprecedented demand on the NHS following severe cold weather. There is also a spike in demand on health services during the Easter holiday.”
Mike Maguire, pharmacist and owner of the Marton Pharmacy, Middlesbrough, said: “Pharmacists can provide instant, confidential advice and treatment for minor illnesses, without the need to make an appointment. We are a quick and convenient first point of contact and many pharmacies have a consulting room for seeing patients in private.”
You can find your nearest pharmacy opening times here
Many urgent care and walk-in centres will also be open. To find out which services are open, and which are local to you, visit: www.urgentoremergency.co.uk.
Dr Slade added: “Emergency departments get extremely busy during holiday periods and we want to ensure that people who can be cared for elsewhere are not waiting at A&E. For minor illnesses, your local pharmacist is an excellent source of help and should be your first point of contact. NHS England is also encouraging people to make sure that their medicine cabinet and first aid kits are well stocked before the holiday period.”
Top tips to ‘Stay Well’ this Easter:
Choose the right service: Use the NHS Choices website for health advice and information about where to go to get the right treatment.
Order your prescriptions: make sure you order these before the Easter holiday.
See your local pharmacist – your pharmacist can advise on a wide range of common illnesses. If you start to feel unwell, even if it is just a cough or cold, get immediate help from your pharmacist before it becomes more serious.
If you need medical help fast, but it’s not life-threatening or an emergency, call NHS 111 at any time for advice.
Self-care: For many winter ailments such as coughs, colds and flu-like symptoms, people don’t need to go to A&E or their local GP practice and are better off taking some paracetamol, drinking plenty of fluids and resting.
Stock up your medicine cabinet – make sure you have the essentials.
Avoid slips and trips: take care in and out of the house: use footwear with slip-resistant soles.
The child health app is free to download and offers a wealth of advice and support.