NHS plea to the public ahead of bank holidays and industrial action

NHS teams in the region are urging the public to plan ahead, stay safe and use health services wisely – ahead of the Easter bank holiday and four days of strike action planned for next week.

Whilst the NHS has plans in place to provide safe levels of care to patients over this period, NHS leaders remain extremely concerned that services will be stretched over the bank holiday weekend and into the following week with high demand expected and the added pressure of industrial action by British Medical Association (BMA) members which is due to take place from 7am Tuesday 11 April through to 7am Saturday 15 April.

Dr Neil O’Brien, executive medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: “We know the Easter holiday period is always a very busy time for the NHS, and teams will be there to help those that urgently need treatment and care in life threating situations. However, with high demand for services and significantly reduced staffing levels we are expecting services to be disrupted and the public can expect lengthy delays. We really do need everyone’s support through this busy and challenging time. There are three key things that people can do to help:

  1. 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 period.
  2. If you do need medical care and it’s not life threatening, contact NHS 111 online or your nearest pharmacy. You can check which pharmacies are open over the bank holiday, including Easter Sunday. Both services would refer you for further treatment should you need it.
  3. 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.”

For local pharmacy services search Find a pharmacy – NHS (www.nhs.uk) or for pharmacies open in the North East and North Cumbria on the Easter bank holidays please check here.

Dr O’Brien added: “Local GP services, although generally closed over the bank holiday, will be open as normal throughout the industrial action period. People should seek medical attention from their local surgery in the usual way, although they are also expected to be very busy following the long bank holiday weekend.

“I’d also like to thank all health and care teams across the region for their work over this busy time, as always your dedication in helping those people who need help and support is greatly appreciated.”

People with hospital appointments should attend unless they have heard otherwise, although it may be necessary for some appointments and treatments to be postponed as emergency care and life-threatening cases are prioritised.

Public are reminded for everyday illnesses and injury to use the on-line symptom checker available at www.111.nhs.uk, which will re-direct to a health professional if people need to be seen by someone. Also self-care advice is available online from the NHS at www.nhs.uk.

Anyone needing urgent mental health support should seek it via their local Crisis Team. People can put their postcode in here to find their local Crisis line.