With the August bank holiday approaching doctors in Devon have reminded people where they can find medical help if they need it.
Dr Tim Burke, a family doctor from Devon and chair of the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said people should choose the most appropriate NHS service so they can get fast and effective advice and treatment for their health issue.
Every year emergency departments (A&E) at hospitals in Devon see approximately 300,000 patients, a number of which have common illnesses or ailments, which may be better treated elsewhere – for example long term musculoskeletal (back pain), gastro-related conditions and viral conditions, such as coughs and colds.
Many of these patients could have avoided going to the emergency department by getting expert advice and quicker access to treatment from other local NHS services such as NHS 111, local pharmacies or GP practices (in-hours).
Some could have quite safely taken care of themselves with basic self-care, first aid and advice.
Dr Burke said: “Over the August bank holiday weekend the NHS is traditionally under pressure and we want to make sure that people who need medical help urgently are able to get it without delay.
“GP surgeries will be closed on Monday 25 August and will reopen on Tuesday 26 August.
“If you have an urgent medical problem that cannot wait until your GP surgery reopens you should call NHS 111. Your details will be taken and, as well as being able to provide advice and help with knowing what services might best meet your needs during that call, where it’s needed a clinician such as a GP or nurse will ring you back to provide more advice or treatment.
“NHS 111 is free to use, available 24-hours-a-day, 365 days a year.
”However, in an emergency you should not hesitate to call 999 immediately or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.”
Dr Burke also reminded people to take enough medicine with them if they were going on holiday or taking a long weekend break.
“Stock up your medicine cabinet with over the counter remedies for ailments such as headaches, stomach upsets and indigestion, including remedies for children,” he said.
“Some pharmacies are still open on Bank Holiday Monday so check their opening hours. You can usually find them on the door at the pharmacy, in local press or on the NHS choices website at www.nhs.uk.”