With local health and care services remaining under severe pressure, the upcoming Easter holiday (7-10 April) followed by industrial action by junior doctors (11-15 April), people are being encouraged to be prepared and know what to do if they or a family member is unwell.
The NHS is urging everyone to carefully consider the best source of help and keep our emergency departments free for the most serious issues.
Please make sure you have stocked up on medicine cabinet essentials, including paracetamol, sticking plasters, indigestion remedy and anti-diarrhoeal treatments. Your community pharmacist will be happy to offer advice on essential medicines you should keep at home.
By doing so, you will be best prepared to deal with minor illnesses and injuries.
It’s also important to have enough repeat prescription medicine to last over the holidays. While GP practices are now offering more evening and Saturday appointments, remember your GP surgery will be closed on Good Friday (7 April) and Easter Monday (10 April) and you need to leave enough time for your surgery to process a repeat prescription and additional time for your pharmacy to dispense it.
If you or a family member feels unwell, firstly visit the NHS 111 online symptom checker or telephone NHS 111 for help and advice. Both are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Your local pharmacy is a great source of help and advice and you don’t need an appointment to speak with a pharmacist. Some pharmacies will be open on Good Friday, Easter Day and Easter Monday. Find details of your local pharmacy.
Adults experiencing a mental health crisis, can speak to a mental health professional anytime, day or night, by calling NHS 111 and selecting the option for mental health. Call 0800 995 1000 for under 18s who need urgent mental health support.
The NHS App provides a simple and secure way to access a wide range of services on a smartphone or tablet. It offers access to certain NHS services online. To download the App, visit the NHS.UK website.
Please remember, while the impending strikes by junior doctors are expected to cause major disruption, pre-planned appointments and procedures will only be cancelled when absolutely necessary. If you haven’t been contacted, please attend your appointment as planned. You will be told if it needs to be rescheduled.
GP practices will be open but some of our teaching practices that employ junior doctors as part of their training may be short staffed and this will impact on the availability of appointments. When patients contact practices, reception teams will continue to arrange for people to be supported by an appropriate member of staff who can meet their needs, including practice nurses or physiotherapists.
They may also book patients into appointments at community pharmacies for some minor illnesses.
As always, everybody can play a part by taking simple steps to look after themselves, their loved ones and by checking on vulnerable neighbours.
For more information on when to call 999 and when to go to A&E, visit the NHS.UK website.