Patients in Sandwell and West Birmingham are being urged to use choose the right medical services over the August Bank Holiday weekend and request repeat prescriptions in advance.
NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has issued the plea to encourage patients to avoid going to a busy hospital Accident and Emergency (A&E) department with only minor ailments or illnesses.
Local pharmacists can give advice on common health problems and many are open over the August Bank Holiday. Patients can find out which pharmacies are open over the August Bank Holiday weekend on the CCG’s website at https://sandwellandwestbhamccg.nhs.uk/news-a-events/2430-august-bank-holiday-2019-pharmacy-opening-in-sandwell-and-west-birmingham-2.
Typically, there is increased pressure on A&E services during bank holidays. A&E is for serious and life-threatening injuries and conditions only. Visiting A&E for minor problems like colds, coughs and sprains not only increases waiting times for all, it also denies resources for people in genuine emergencies.
If medical advice is required or patients become unwell and their GP surgery is closed, they are advised to first call NHS 111, a fast and easy way to get the right help at any time. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.
Patients who take regular medication should ensure they have enough repeat medicines in stock to last them over the August Bank Holiday when their GP surgery will be closed.
Running out of daily medication could have serious consequences, particularly for patients who rely on them to control heart and breathing problems.
Dr Ian Sykes, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said:
“The August Bank Holiday is a time best spent with friends and family, and not at the local A&E department. If patients only have a minor illness or ailments then they should visit their local pharmacist.
“Pharmacies are the ideal place over the August Bank Holiday weekend to get over the counter remedies and advice for minor illnesses such as hayfever, stings, insect bites, sunburn and coughs and colds or ailments like bumps and grazes – things that don’t really need a visit to the doctor or hospital. Pharmacists are highly qualified healthcare professionals who have undertaken a minimum of five years education and training; they therefore have expert knowledge on prescription and over the counter medicines.
“If patients become unwell over the August Bank Holiday weekend or need urgent medical advice but it is not a life threatening emergency then they should call NHS 111. Their call handlers can provide a wide range of information from where to find an emergency dentist to arranging a visit from an out-of-hours doctor.”
Local NHS services opening hours in Sandwell and West Birmingham over the August Bank Holiday can be found on http://www.nhs.uk/service-search including information on walk-in centres, urgent care centres or minor injuries units. Patients can type in their postcode on the website to find their nearest available services.