The coming Easter weekend and four days of planned industrial action by junior doctors have prompted an urgent call to the public by NHS bosses.
People in the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire NHS area are being reminded that urgent and emergency health care teams are expected to be extremely busy over the Bank Holidays.
Families and friends will be coming to the region to celebrate with loved ones, while many GP practices, pharmacies and other non-urgent services are expected to close or amend their hours.
Local people, the NHS says, can play their part in helping to reduce unnecessary demand by using these services only when the need is genuine, and by knowing what other help is available, such as 111 online and community pharmacies.
Dr Amanda Webb, Chief Medical Officer, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “The actions of the public, even those which may seem small, can collectively make a big difference to the NHS during these periods of high demand and intense pressure.
“The support we’re calling for will help our already-stretched frontline teams to continue to provide essential care and treatment for those most in need before, during and after Easter.”
People in need of care over the coming days are asked to seek help from NHS 111 online, which can give person-specific advice on possible treatment options and, where necessary, make referrals to other nearby NHS services.
Similarly, the HANDi app, which is available for free on the App Store and Google Play, can help parents and carers to treat common childhood illnesses, such as high temperatures and diarrhoea and vomiting, safely at home.
Some pharmacies across the region will be open on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, and these can be used without an appointment for emergency prescriptions, medication advice and private consultations for minor injury and illness.
Supporting loved-ones to leave hospital when they are well enough to go home or to their place of care is another way in which people can help others to get the care they need.
Andrew Hollowood, Chief Medical Officer at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Home is the best place for people to recover, and when patients leave hospital, it means we have more beds available for those who really need them.
“The support of patients’ friends and family is invaluable in helping to speed up discharges, and relatively small actions, such as getting groceries ready, collecting prescriptions or providing a lift, can really cut the time it takes for someone to return home.”
Further details about local health and care services, including Easter opening times for all the region’s pharmacies, can be found online in the Your Health section of the BSW Together website, www.bswtogether.org.uk.
BSW ICB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram also provide regular information about local services and health care help.
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