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NHS ask public to stock up for Easter bank holiday

NHS teams in the region are urging the public to plan ahead, stay safe and use health services wisely - ahead of the bank holiday.

As the Easter bank holiday approaches, people across the region are being reminded to plan ahead when it comes to ordering repeat prescriptions, stocking up on medicine cabinet essentials and enjoying themselves safely - to avoid any unnecessary visits to A&E over the holiday weekend.

Dr Neil O’Brien, executive medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: "Bank holidays are always a busy time for the NHS and we need the public's help to make sure we can be there for those who need our help the most.

“If people are unwell then of course we are here to help, but we are also asking everyone to make sure they are well prepared for the holidays by remembering to order any prescription medicine well in advance, having a well-stocked medicine cabinet to treat any unexpected minor health concerns at home and by thinking carefully about the right NHS service for them if they do require medical help.

“One of the best things people can do is keep some basic medicines at home such as paracetamol, plasters, indigestion remedy and anti-diarrhoeal medicine - you can ask your local pharmacist for advice on any other medicines you might need.

"It’s also important to have enough repeat medicine to last over the holidays - remember your GP surgery will be closed on Good Friday, March 29, and Easter Monday, April 1, and it can take up to 48 hours for most GP surgeries to process a repeat prescription."

Dr O'Brien also urged people to enjoy their bank holiday safely, to avoid any additional pressures on urgent care and A&E departments. 

"Whether you’re working in the garden, tackling some DIY or taking part in outdoor activities please, please, remember to do it safely – and this also includes taking care when drinking alcohol.

"Unfortunately, over bank holidays we often see many people turn up at A&E and emergency services with illness, injury, accidents and violence-related incidents due to drinking too much. While we understand people want to enjoy themselves, we know they don’t want to spend their valuable holiday time in A&E or hospital because they’ve overdone it!

"If you do need medical care over the bank holiday the NHS is still here to help, but if it's not life threatening, please think about the alternative services you could use such as your local pharmacy or NHS 111, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days week, to offer help and advice on a whole range of medical problems when your GP surgery is closed."

Patients are advised to visit their local pharmacy or use their GP surgery online ordering system to arrange any repeat medication or download the NHS App.

Ewan Maule, director of medicines and pharmacy, North East and North Cumbria ICB, added: “If you do forget to order your prescriptions and need emergency medication over the bank holiday – please don't panic as help is available.

"Some local community pharmacies will be open over the holidays and they can help you if your medication is in stock.

"Community pharmacists can also see patients for seven common health conditions (sinusitis, sore throat, earache, shingles, impetigo, infected insect bites and UTIs in women under 65) without the need for a GP appointment so please ask for their help in the first instance. If you do need further attention they will refer you.

"The online NHS pharmacy service search will show which pharmacies are available and local NHS websites and social media channels will also have details of all opening hours over the holidays."

Top tips for healthcare over the Easter bank holiday:

  • Be prepared for common health problems by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home and making sure that you have enough prescription medication to last over the holiday period.
  • Community pharmacists are part of your expert NHS health care team and are excellent at giving lots of advice about self-care and medications to treat common health conditions at home.
  • Community pharmacists can also see patients for seven common health conditions (sinusitis, sore throat, earache, shingles, impetigo, infected insect bites and UTIs in women under 65) without the need for a GP appointment
  • Health advice and information is available via the NHS App or the NHS website, or from your local GP practice website which link to a range of online services, and in most cases, you can order repeat prescriptions online.
  • For children’s health advice you can download the Little Orange Book- with tips about a wide range of illnesses and conditions - or use the Healthier Together website or app
  • If you do suffer a minor injury or illness, NHS 111 online is a great place to seek advice and can help you reach the right place for your care.

How to order a repeat prescription

  • Order online via your GP practice website – you need to be registered with your practice for this.
  • Order through the NHS App – download the app from Google Play or the App store, you can register without having to visit your practice.  More information on the NHS App is available on the uk website.
  • Order in person, at your GP Practice – simply tick the medicines required on the white, tear-off section of your prescription and drop it into your GP Practice, ask a relative or friend to drop it in for you, or post it. Many practices have a box outside, so you don’t need to go into the practice building to do this. 

If you require emergency care, you should call 999, or go to your nearest Emergency Department. You should ONLY call 999 or go to an Emergency Department if you or someone else has a life-threatening emergency, such as:

  • signs of a heart attack
    chest pain, pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across the chest
  • signs of a stroke
    face dropping on one side, cannot hold both arms up, difficulty speaking
  • sudden confusion (delirium)
    cannot be sure of own name or age
  • suicide attempt
    by taking something or self-harming 
  • severe difficulty breathing
    not being able to get words out, choking or gasping
  • choking
    on liquids or solids right now
  • heavy bleeding
    spraying, pouring or enough to make a puddle
  • severe injuries
    after a serious accident or assault
  • seizure (fit)
    shaking or jerking because of a fit, or unconscious (cannot be woken up)
  • sudden, rapid swelling
    of the lips, mouth, throat or tongue

British Sign Language (BSL) speakers can make a BSL video call to 999.

Deaf people can use 18000 to contact 999 using text relay.

If you are concerned about how much you, or someone you know, drinks, there’s lots of help available. Speak to your GP, find your local alcohol support service, or contact Drinkline on freephone 0300 123 1110 or Alcoholics Anonymous on 0845 769 7555.

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