NHS urges public to ensure they are prepared ahead of Bank Holiday

By Barrie Hudson - 26 April 2023


The public are being urged to ensure they do their bit to minimise Bank Holiday pressure on the NHS.

Chiefs say a few simple steps now will mean people are less likely to need help this weekend.

Key advice includes patients ensuring they have enough prescribed medication and checking which local pharmacies will be open.

NHS South West Regional Chief Nurse, Sue Doheny said: “We know that we see an increase in people who need our help over and immediately after a Bank Holiday weekend, which is why we are asking people to take a few simple steps now to minimise your need for NHS help this weekend.

“Having enough of your prescribed medicines, having a well-stocked first aid kit, and even knowing which local pharmacy will be open and when will help you manage day-to-day and minor health issues.  

“And if you have done all those things and still need non-life-threatening help then 111 online (www.111.nhs.uk) can provide urgent health advice and direct you to the most appropriate NHS service for your condition.”

The NHS typically sees increased demand over Bank Holidays, particularly as people take the opportunity of the longer weekend to get outdoors or to do those household jobs we’ve been storing up over winter, leading to accidents and injuries.

With nurses expected to go on strike from 8pm on Sunday, 30 April until 8pm on Tuesday, 2 May, the NHS in the South West is expecting challenges in delivering timely care to all those that need it.

Every Bank Holiday the NHS 111 phone service sees many more people using the service where they’ve left it too late to order their repeat prescriptions.

Calls to 111 relating to repeat prescriptions account for about three percent of all demand. This doubles during the Bank Holiday period and, according to the NHS, are all calls which could be avoided had people ensured they prepared for the long weekend in advance.

The NHS advises patients to:

- Make sure you have enough of your prescribed medications. You can easily order repeat prescriptions via the NHS App, though your GP practice website or, if you do not have access to GP online services, by calling your GP practice.

- Ensure you have a fully stocked first aid kit at home or with you. Find out what you need at https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/accidents-first-aid-and-treatments/what-should-i-keep-in-my-first-aid-kit/

- Check which of your local pharmacies is open this Bank Holiday and when via https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/info-professional/pharm-info/pharmacy-opening-hours/

If you are ill or injured, and it is not life-threatening, but are unsure of which NHS service to use, 111.nhs.uk can help you with:

- Where to get help for your symptoms, if you’re not sure what to do

- How to find general health information and advice

- Getting help with an existing medical condition

- How to get mental health help

- Where to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine

- Getting emergency dental appointments

You should still ring 999 if you experience

- Signs of a heart attack like pain like a heavy weight in the centre of your chest

- Signs of stroke such as your face dropping on one side

- Difficulty breathing

- Heavy bleeding that won’t stop

- Seizures

- Sudden and rapid swelling of the eyes, lips, throat or tongue

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