People across the North East and North Cumbria are being asked to help ease pressure on NHS accident and emergency services over the August bank holiday.
NHS England is urging people to see a pharmacist or make an appointment to see a GP for non-emergency health issues.
Although some GP practices are closed over the bank holiday weekend, 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.
NHS England’s Medical Director for Cumbria and the North East, Professor Chris Gray, said: “Many GPs have extended opening hours and pharmacists across the region are open for business over the bank holiday, but please make sure you order your prescriptions early before the holiday weekend.
“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, and health advice is available on the NHS.uk website.
“In all cases, if you think someone is more seriously injured or ill, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible. Further advice can be sought from your GP surgery or by calling NHS 111. In an emergency, dial 999 for an ambulance.”
Around 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million visits to A&E are for self-treatable conditions – such as coughs and tummy troubles – at a cost of more than £850 million each year to the NHS. This is the equivalent of more than 220,000 hip replacements or 880,000 cataract operations.
The North East Urgent and Emergency Care Network website has advice on what to include in a first aid kit and which services are open, including local pharmacy times.
If you care for children, the child health app is free and offers a wealth of advice and support: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fAEJsRrKQg&feature=youtu.be