Plan ahead for bank holiday healthcare

  • 15 August 2018


NHS leaders are urging local people to plan ahead for their healthcare needs over the August bank holiday weekend (25-27 August).

With many GP practices and pharmacies closed over the bank holiday, doctors are reminding those with repeat prescriptions to pick up their medication 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.

Although many pharmacists will be closed over the bank holiday, a number of emergency pharmacists will be open and can provide expert advice on common conditions such as coughs and colds. Details of all pharmacists open over the weekend are available at

Those with more urgent care needs are being encouraged to dial NHS 111 for immediate medical advice and guidance on the best service for their needs. Minor injuries units and the out-of-hours GP are all available over the weekend and can provide fast, local treatment for injuries or illnesses that can’t wait until GPs reopen.

Local GP and Clinical Lead for Unplanned Care at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Lesley Ward said: “Bank holidays are always a busy time of year but people can take simple steps to make sure they and their families stay well.

“Making sure you have the medicines you need to last the weekend is one important step to make sure you’re not caught out by bank holiday closures.

“We hope that everyone enjoys a happy and healthy time, but if you do need healthcare urgently, but it’s not an emergency, please do remember to phone NHS111 for advice on where to go.

“Our A&E departments are always busy on bank holidays so by using the right service for your needs, you’ll also be helping them to do their job.

“Finally, don’t forget that there are lots of pharmacies open who can provide expert and confidential advice for minor ailments as well as advice on medication, contraception and sexual health. You’ll find details of the nearest one on our website.”

Eight steps to get the right care first time this bank holiday:

1. Plan ahead: Make sure you have enough medication to last the bank holiday weekend if you have a long-term condition that requires repeat prescriptions. Act now by ordering and collecting your prescription while your GP practice and pharmacy are open.

2. Self-care: Some very minor ailments, such as colds or sore throats are best treated at home. Get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. You can plan ahead by stocking up on some healthcare essentials – paracetamol or aspirin, indigestion remedies and plasters for example. You can find all these at your local pharmacy.

3. Dial 111: The NHS 111 service is available when you urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation. The service is free to dial from a mobile or landline and is staffed by trained advisers, who can assess symptoms and provide healthcare advice or direct you to local services.

4. GP: Many GPs are open longer hours now - 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 – call 111 to contact your local out-of-hours service.

5. Pharmacists: Pharmacists can provide expert, confidential advice and treatment for minor ailments as well as advising on medication and contraception and sexual health. Many pharmacies are open over the bank holiday and may be able to prescribe medication in your GP’s absence. See the CCG website for bank holiday pharmacy opening hours in your area.   

 6. Minor Injuries Units: Minor Injuries Units (MIUs) 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. MIU bank holiday opening times can be found on the CCG website.

7. Walk-in Centres: Walk-in Centres offer the same service as minor injuries units but can also deal with minor illnesses and infections as well as providing emergency contraception and advice.

8. A&E: A&E departments provide urgent treatment for serious, life-threatening emergencies such as stroke, severe abdominal pain, severe bleeding, severe breathing difficulties, major broken bones and serious head injuries. In these situations, don’t hesitate – go to A&E or call 999.