With bank Holiday Monday coming up, doctors in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are reminding people where to go if they need health care while their usual GP or pharmacist is closed.
Many GP surgeries and pharmacies will be closed on bank holiday Monday and doctors are urging people to plan ahead for their healthcare needs over the weekend.
Pharmacists are experts in medicines who can help you and your family with minor health concerns. As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.
If symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, pharmacists have the right training to make sure you get the help you need. For example they will tell you if you need to contact your GP practice.
All pharmacists train for five years in the use of medicines. They are also trained in managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice.
If you are not sure where your pharmacy is use the pharmacy finder on NHS UK where you can visually see what pharmacies are open during the bank holiday dates.
To help over the bank holiday doctors recommend:
- Pick up prescriptions: If you have a repeat prescription, make sure you have enough medication to last the long weekend. If you’re running short, there’s still time to pick up a prescription and avoid any last-minute panics.
- Prepare for self-care: You can look after many very minor ailments with over-the-counter medicines from your pharmacist. Check that you have basics like paracetamol and antihistamine, plus a first-aid kit – see the NHS website for a suggested list
- Emergency pharmacists: Remember that emergency pharmacists will be available throughout the weekend providing over-the-counter medication and advice if needed – use NHS find a pharmacy tool to see local opening times
- Think 111 first for urgent care: If you think you need medical help and it can’t wait, contact 111 first. They’ll help you right away and if you need urgent care, they will book you in to a local urgent care service such as the out-of-hours GP or a local minor injury unit – all of which are available throughout the long weekend
- A&E for life-threatening emergencies: For life-threatening emergencies, call 999 or go straight to A&E - but remember that if you arrive with a non-emergency condition, you are likely to be directed to a more appropriate service
Dr Jonathan Hayes, local GP and Clinical Chair of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“There are plenty of health services across the area dependent on your need. When people don’t know where to go, they tend to default to going to A&E and this is rarely the best option. If your need is not a life-threatening emergency, you could be waiting for very long periods or be sent to another service, so if you’re not sure what service you need, I would always recommend ringing 111 first, so that they can help ensure you get the treatment you need in the right place, first time, to save frustration and avoid delays”
“Also, make sure you order prescriptions from your GP before they are closed for the bank holiday so you have medications you need.”
A list of all pharmacies open can be found on the NHS website.
For anything more serious, that doesn’t require a 999 response, people are urged to contact NHS 111 by phone or online first. The service has been expanded during the pandemic and is now the best way to access urgent care services. The trained call handlers will be able to direct you to the right service for your needs including a number of hospital specialities. If you do need to go to hospital or to an urgent treatment centre the system in place will notify the service so you are expected. If the service is busy you will be given a timeslot to arrive, so you don’t have to wait around when you get there.