Health leaders are asking everyone to think ahead when it comes to ordering their repeat prescriptions, stocking up on medicine cabinet essentials and enjoying themselves safely, to avoid any unnecessary additional pressure on NHS services.
The ask comes ahead of three bank holidays in May; Monday 1, Monday 8, to mark the King’s coronation, and Monday 29, when most GP surgeries and community pharmacies will be closed.
Therewill also be the added pressure of planned industrial action, by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members at hospital trusts across the North East, including Gateshead Health. The walk out is set to take place from 8pm Saturday 30 April to 0.01am on Tuesday 2 May.
Dr Neil O’Brien, executive medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) said: “With two consecutive bank holiday weekends approaching along with further planned industrial action, which is likely to affect hospitals in our region on the first bank holiday, we really welcome the support of the public to use NHS services wisely during this very busy time.
“Our health teams will be here to help those that urgently need treatment and care, in life-threatening situations, however, with high demand for services and the possibility of reduced staffing levels we are expecting some services to be disrupted and the public may see lengthy delays. We really do need everyone’s support through this busy and challenging time and there are three key things that people can do to help:
• Plan ahead – stock up your medicine cabinet with essentials such as paracetamol, indigestion tablets, plasters, and antiseptic cream, as well as making sure you have enough repeat prescriptions to last over the holiday periods – remember GP surgeries will be closed on Monday 1, Monday 8 and Monday 29 May and it can take up to 48 hours to process a repeat prescription.
• If you do need medical care and it’s not life threatening, contact NHS 111 online or your nearest pharmacy. Both services will refer you for further treatment should you need it.
• Enjoy the bank holiday safely – take care when out gardening, tackling DIY or taking part in an outdoor activity, and try and reduce your alcohol intake.
“We would like to thank all health and care teams across the region who continue to work incredibly hard, day-in and day-out, for all their work. As always your dedication to doing your best for the people you look after at a time of unprecedented and relentless demand on the NHS is hugely appreciated.”
Ewan Maule, director of medicines and pharmacy, North East and North Cumbria ICB, added: “If you do forget to order your prescriptions and need emergency medication over the bank holidays – please don’t panic as help is available.
“Some local community pharmacies will be open over the holidays and they can help you if your medication is in stock.
“The ICBs bank holiday pharmacy opening times webpage will show which pharmacies are available and local NHS websites and social media channels will also have details of all opening hours over the holidays.”
Top tips for healthcare over the bank holidays
• Order online in plenty of time via your GP Practice website – you need to be registered with your practice for this.
• Order through the NHS App – download the app from Google Play or the App store, you can register without having to visit your practice. More information on the NHS App is available on the nhs.uk website.
• Order in person, at your GP Practice – simply tick the medicines required on the white, tear-off section of your prescription and drop it into your GP Practice, ask a relative or friend to drop it in for you, or post it. Many practices have a box outside, so you don’t need to go into the practice building to do this.
• Be prepared for common health problems by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home.
• Community pharmacists are part of your expert NHS health care team and are excellent at giving lots of advice about self-care and medications to treat common health conditions at home.
• Health advice and information is also available via the NHS App or the NHS website, or from your local GP practice website which link to a range of online services.
• For children’s health advice you can download The Little Orange Book which covers a wide range of illnesses in children from common minor ailments including teething, constipation, and colds, through to more serious conditions.
Minor illness or injury
If you do suffer a minor injury or illness, NHS111 online is a great place to seek advice and can help you reach the right place for your care.
If you require emergency care, you should call 999, or go to your nearest Emergency Department. You should ONLY call 999 or go to an Emergency Department if you or someone else has a life-threatening emergency, such as:
• signs of a heart attack – chest pain, pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across the chest
• signs of a stroke – face dropping on one side, cannot hold both arms up, difficulty speaking
• sudden confusion (delirium) – cannot be sure of own name or age
• suicide attempt – by taking something or self-harming
• severe difficulty breathing – not being able to get words out, choking or gasping
• choking – on liquids or solids right now
• heavy bleeding – spraying, pouring or enough to make a puddle
• severe injuries – after a serious accident or assault
• seizure (fit) – shaking or jerking because of a fit, or unconscious (cannot be woken up)
• sudden, rapid swelling – of the lips, mouth, throat or tongue.
British Sign Language (BSL) speakers can make a BSL video call to 999. Deaf people can use 18000 to contact 999 using text relay.
If you are concerned about how much you, or someone you know, drinks, there’s lots of help available, including talking to your GP.
You can find your local alcohol support service or contact:
Drinkline freephone: 0300 123 1110
Alcoholics Anonymous: 0845 769 7555