Doctors in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are urging local people to plan ahead for their healthcare needs over the festive bank holiday weekends.
Bank holidays fall on 25 and 28 December this year, as well as New Year’s Day, and while urgent and emergency care will continue to be available as usual, some GPs and pharmacies will be closed.
To prepare, local GPs are urging people who have repeat medication to make sure that they have enough to last the bank holiday weekends and to order and collect prescriptions in good time.
People are also being encouraged to check they have a well-stocked home medicine cabinet so they can treat very minor ailments such as coughs and colds at home.
Local GP and Medical Director at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG Dr Peter Brindle said: “Christmas and New Year is always a very busy time of year and it’s easy to forget that local GPs and pharmacies may not be open.
“However there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you’re not caught out by the bank holiday closures.
“First, if you have a repeat prescription, make sure you have enough medication to last you over the longer bank holiday weekends. There are always people who run out of medication over bank holidays and while help is always available, you can avoid that last-minute panic by collecting prescriptions now.
“Second, check that you have the home medicine basics you’d need to treat very minor ailments like coughs, colds, allergic reactions or cuts and scrapes. Your pharmacist can advise you on the products you should have at home in case of need.”
For those who do need to see a healthcare professional over the bank holidays and can’t wait until normal services resume, urgent care can be accessed via NHS111, either by phone or online at 111.nhs.uk
NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day for immediate medical advice and guidance. Depending on a patients’ needs, 111 can book people directly into a service such as a minor injury unit, the out-of-hours GP or if necessary, A&E.
Emergency pharmacists will also be open throughout the area over the bank holiday and can provide emergency medication and contraception, as well as advice on a wide range of common ailments. Details of emergency pharmacists in the area can be found at www.bnssgccg.nhs.uk/health-services
Help Us Help You: plan ahead for bank holiday care
- Repeat prescriptions: If you have a long-term condition that requires repeat prescriptions, make sure you have enough medication to last the long weekends.
- Self-care: Be prepared for very minor conditions by stocking up on home medicine essentials – paracetamol or aspirin, antihistamines for allergic reactions, indigestion remedies and a basic first aid kit for example. You can find all these at your local pharmacy.
- Contact 111: The NHS 111 service is for when you urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening emergency. It’s free to use online and by phone, and available round the clock.
- GP: Many GPs are open longer hours including early morning, late evenings and Saturdays, and offer emergency appointments for urgent cases. If your GP is closed during the bank holiday weekend, you can also see a GP outside of usual opening hours – contact 111 to access services.
- Pharmacists: Pharmacists provide expert, confidential advice and treatment for minor ailments as well as advising on repeat medication, contraception and sexual health. Some are always open over the bank holidays and may be able to prescribe emergency medication if your GP is closed. See www.bnssgccg.nhs.uk for details of emergency pharmacy opening times in your area.
- Minor Injuries: Minor Injuries Units and Urgent Treatment Centres treat less serious injuries such as cuts and grazes, sprains and strains and trips and falls. They can usually see you much more quickly than A&E and you don’t need to book an appointment. Services are open in Yate, South Bristol and Clevedon throughout the holiday period; see www.bnssgccg.nhs.uk/health-services for details.