The local NHS is reminding patients of a few simple steps they can take to stay healthy over the Easter four-day weekend. Good Friday and Easter Monday are bank holidays, so most GP practices will be closed.
Local people are being urged by NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to stock up on vital medicines they might need during the bank holiday weekend, including ordering repeat prescriptions.
Last year, the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust reported a sharp rise in the number of Accident and Emergency attendances over the Easter weekend, which placed additional pressure on the service. Last Good Friday was particularly busy as the Trust saw 781 patients coming to A&E - more than 100 patients than would usually be expected.
Dr Phillip Earnshaw, Chair of NHS Wakefield CCG, said: “Making sure you have enough medicines to see you through the Easter holidays when GP surgeries are closed can make a big difference to your health.
“It could also help make sure that you don’t call out doctors unnecessarily or end up going to A&E when these services will be very busy and it’s not the best way to get help.
“Often you will be able to get something from your local pharmacy or shop to care for yourself or a family member.”
Doctors are also reminding patients of the benefits of using their local pharmacies. Pharmacists are qualified experts in the use of medicines and can give advice on common symptoms, medicines and healthy living.
Some pharmacies are open over the Easter period but there will be changes to usual opening times. Patients can locate their nearest pharmacy by visiting the NHS Choices website. Pharmacy opening information for over the Easter holiday weekend can also be found on the CCG website.
The pharmacy is also the perfect place to stock up medicine cabinets prior to the Easter weekend. Useful items to have handy include:
- pain relief such as paracetamol and ibuprofen (aspirin should not be given to children under 16 or to people with asthma)
- paediatric paracetamol oral suspension or ibuprofen syrups for children
- cough and cold remedies
- sore throat remedies
- anti-diarrhoea treatments
- indigestion remedies
- simple dressings and plasters
When medical help is needed but it is not an emergency, people can ring NHS 111 for advice and direction to the most appropriate service, which could be an appointment with an out-of-hours GP. NHS 111 is available 24-hours-a-day; 365-days-a-year and calls are free.
Wakefield’s King Street Walk-In Centre is also open every day over Easter from 8am-8pm, which can provide health support and advice to anyone who comes through the door.
People are urged to go to their local A&E department or dial 999 only in critical or life-threatening situations. For example:
- loss of consciousness
- acute confused state
- fits that are not stopping
- persistent, severe chest pain
- breathing difficulties
- severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- severe allergic reactions
- severe burns or scalds.
In the case of suspected heart attack or stroke call 999 immediately. Every second counts with these conditions.
Dr Phillip Earnshaw added: “Holidays are times when demand on emergency services increases dramatically so it is important that patients ask themselves ‘does this illness or injury really need emergency treatment?’ Sometimes self-care is the answer, especially for coughs and colds that can’t be treated with antibiotics anyway.
“If you are taking regular medicines, making sure you have enough to last over the holidays by getting organised with your repeat prescriptions is essential. This could prevent you becoming ill or even avert a medical emergency.
“A well-stocked medicine cupboard is essential, especially over holiday times. Having home remedies to hand means peace of mind. People should pop into their local pharmacies and ask for advice about essential items.”