People living in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre have been urged to use the right health service this bank holiday as NHS services have noted an increase in demand.
GP practices will be closed for the Bank Holiday on Monday 31 May, but people who need health services can still access advice and treatment if they need it.
Dr Neil Hartley-Smith, a local GP and clinical director for NHS Blackpool and NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: “Since the lockdown restrictions started to ease, we have seen more people walking into urgent treatment centres and to A&E at the hospital. Many of those people could have saved themselves a long wait if they had used the right service.
“Urgent treatment centres and A&E are for exactly what they say they are for; urgent care and emergencies. Anyone attending those services when it is not urgent or a life-threatening emergency face a long wait as the patients with the most serious need are prioritised.”
Dr Anthony Kearns, head of department for emergency medicine at Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Of course, many people have acute conditions that need urgent treatment and they take priority, but we have seen many non-urgent cases, which make the department and the waiting room unsafe, due to crowding and social distancing restrictions. This then means we cannot treat those who urgently need our attention as quickly as we would like.”
There are many other services that can be used for non-urgent and long-term conditions such as pharmacies, GP surgeries, Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) and NHS 111 First, who will book people an appointment if your condition is deemed to be an emergency.
If you do need medical advice over the bank holiday, the advice is to use NHS 111 either online at 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111 for free. You will be asked a series of questions by trained call handlers who can then decide the best option for you. If necessary they can have a GP call you, offer you advice on how to deal with your condition yourself or make an appointment at an urgent treatment centre or A&E. If you are given an appointment, staff in the services will try to see you within 30 minutes of your appointment time. That means you should not be sat in a waiting room for a long time.
For people who have minor conditions such as aches and pains, hay fever or other common ailments the best thing is to go to the pharmacy.
Dr Hartley-Smith said: “Most of the time common symptoms can be treated easily and cheaply with over the counter medicines. Only if they persist should you seek more advice from your GP. Pharmacists are highly trained professionals who can offer you advice for free. If you need to speak in private, consultation rooms are available and often you will be in and out of the pharmacy with a treatment within a matter of minutes.”
To see which pharmacies are open on Bank Holiday Monday, visit www.fyldecoastccgs.nhs.uk