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NHS asks the public to plan ahead and stay safe ahead of the May bank holidays

People across the North East and North Cumbria are being reminded to plan in advance, stay safe and use the right services ahead of the May Day and spring bank holidays.

Health leaders are also asking people to remember to order any repeat prescriptions in plenty of time and stock up on medicine cabinet essentials, to avoid any unnecessary additional pressure on NHS services.

The plea comes ahead of two May bank holidays - Monday 6 and Monday 27, when most GP surgeries and many community pharmacies will be closed.

Dr Neil O’Brien, chief medical officer for NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: "With two consecutive bank holiday weekends approaching we really welcome the support of the public in using NHS services wisely during this time.

"Health teams will be here to help anyone who needs urgent treatment and care, however with traditionally high demand for services over bank holiday periods there may be lengthy delays, so we really do need everyone's support."

Three key things that people can do to help:

  • Plan ahead - stock up your medicine cabinet with essentials such as paracetamol, indigestion tablets, plasters, and antiseptic cream, as well as making sure you have enough repeat prescriptions to last over the holiday periods - remember GP surgeries will be closed on Monday 6, and Monday 27 May and it can take up to 72 hours to process a repeat prescription.
  • If you do need medical care and it's not life threatening, contact NHS 111 online or your nearest pharmacy. Both services will refer you for further treatment should you need it.
  • Enjoy the bank holiday safely – take care when out gardening, tackling DIY or taking part in an outdoor activity, and try and reduce your alcohol intake.

"I'd also like to say a huge thank you to all the health and care teams, across the region, who will be working over the bank holidays," added Dr O'Brien.

"As always their dedication in doing their best for the people they look after, at an extremely busy time, is hugely appreciated."

Ewan Maule, clinical director of medicines and pharmacy, NHS North East and North Cumbria ICB, added: “If you do forget to order your repeat prescriptions and need emergency medication over the bank holidays – 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.

"The ICBs bank holiday pharmacy opening times webpage will show which pharmacies are available and local NHS websites and social media channels will also have details of opening hours over the holidays."


Top tips for healthcare over the bank holidays:

Repeat prescriptions 

  • Order online in plenty of time via your GP Practice website or call them – 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

Be prepared

  • Be prepared for common health problems by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home.
  • 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.
  • Health advice and information is also available via the NHS App or the NHS website, or from your local GP practice website which link to a range of online services.
  • For children’s health advice you can download The Little Orange Book
  • which covers a wide range of illnesses in children from common minor ailments including teething, constipation, and colds, through to more serious conditions.

Minor illness or injury

If you do suffer a minor injury or illness, NHS111 online is a great place to seek advice and can help you reach the right place for your care.

Emergency care

If you or someone else has a life-threatening emergency and require emergency care, you should call 999, or go to your nearest Emergency Department. This includes

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

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, including talking to your GP.

You can find your local alcohol support service or contact:

Drinkline freephone: 0300 123 1110

Alcoholics Anonymous: 0845 769 7555

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