Patients urged to ease pressure on A&E over August bank holiday by visiting their pharmacist

Patients are being urged to ease the pressure on accident and emergency departments over the August bank holiday weekend by visiting their local pharmacist.
Patients are being urged to ease the pressure on accident and emergency departments over the August bank holiday weekend by visiting their local pharmacist.

People across the North East 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.

Professor Chris Gray, NHS England’s medical director for Cumbria and the North East, 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.