People in the North East and North Cumbria are being reassured that the NHS is there for them this Easter weekend should they need it.
Despite the pressures the NHS as a whole is experiencing with the evolving coronavirus situation, regional health leaders have reiterated that help is at hand throughout the bank holiday weekend if people require it.
There are pharmacies open every day, access to GPs is available on Good Friday and Easter Monday and minor injuries units, urgent care centres and emergency departments are operating as normal. NHS 111 is also available online or over the phone 24/7 if people need have an urgent medical problem however need advice on which service they should access.
For the first time during a bank holiday, people are able to request repeat prescriptions via NHS 111 online.
The reassurance follows a plea from health leaders last week not to put off seeking help if they are seriously ill because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Professor Chris Gray, clinical lead for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS), said: “While this bank holiday weekend is not the traditional Easter get-away and opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors it usually is, the advice from the NHS remains the same.
“We’re here for you if you need us however please use services sensibly and choose the most appropriate service to best suit your needs.
“We’re urging people to plan ahead as they would normally do by ordering repeat prescriptions in advance or do this via NHS 111 online.
“If you have a minor ailment, pharmacies are open throughout the weekend and can offer advice and over-the-counter medicines for most common ailments.
“While most GPs may be offering telephone rather than face-to-face appointments these days, they will still be accessible on Good Friday and Easter Monday and, if you need them, please access this service on those days.
“If you have an urgent issue, please make use or your local minor injuries unit or urgent care centre where you are likely to have a shorter wait than if you attended an emergency department.
“However, if you are seriously ill, please don’t delay in going to your nearest emergency department or calling 999. Please don’t put it off because you’re worried about the coronavirus, whether that’s putting additional strain on the NHS or about catching the virus. The quicker you get help for conditions such as a suspected stroke or heart attack, the better your outcome is likely to be, and you will not be exposed to the virus as our staff are following the strictest infection control measures.”
Prof Gray added: “Regardless of whether you need the NHS or not this weekend, please do not be tempted to meet up with family or friends or travel to beauty spots for a walk, even if the weather is nice. The best thing you can do is stay at home – make use of outdoor space if you have it and go out for your daily exercise close by – in order to protect our NHS and help us save lives.”
Pharmacies will be open between 2pm and 5pm on Good Friday and Easter Monday – many will be open longer and over the weekend too. To find out which pharmacies are open in your area visit www.urgentoremergency.co.uk.
The NHS appreciates that this is a tough time for people, particularly for those living alone, for help visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/.
For the latest advice on coronavirus including the symptoms and government restrictions visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.