Patients needing a face-to-face appointment with a health professional are being asked to contact NHS 111 First, who will help direct people to the most appropriate service to meet their needs.
NHS 111 is staffed by a team of trained professionals and clinicians who will provide instant over-the-phone triage, and can offer pre-booked face-to-face appointment slots with an out of hours GP, or a local hospital A&E department if required.
This system is in place to help ensure patients get the care they need as quickly and easily as possible. However, people should still dial 999 as normal in a medical emergency, when someone is seriously injured, or their life is at risk.
Dr Manisha Kumar, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Greater Manchester, said: “We know that sometimes patients can feel unsure about where to go for help if they become unwell over the bank holiday, but we’re keen to let people know that they can still get urgent help when they need it – even if their normal GP practice is closed.
“The advice is really simple – go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111 if you need any kind of urgent medical treatment over the weekend. They can offer lots of helpful advice, and book you an urgent, face-to-face appointment if you need urgent treatment or care too.
“And it is also sensible to prepare for common illnesses with over-the-counter medicines, which your pharmacist can also help with.”
NHS Greater Manchester is also reminding people who take regular medication to make sure their repeat prescriptions are ordered early from their pharmacist, and ideally no later than Friday 19 August ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend.
With almost half the population reliant on repeat prescriptions*, the ‘be prepared’ call comes ahead of the August Bank Holiday weekend when practices are closed for a longer period.
People are also reminded that they can get advice and treatment for lots of minor illnesses and ailments from a local pharmacy – without the need for an appointment. Many local pharmacies will still be open over the bank holiday, but some will operate with reduced hours – people can find pharmacy Bank Holiday opening times here.
Dental support can be accessed via the Greater Manchester dental helpline (0333 332 3800), which is available from 8am to 10pm every day, including weekends and Bank Holidays for those who need help urgently when their practice is closed, or do not have a regular dentist.
To access NHS 111, go to 111.nhs.uk or dial 111 at any time – it operates 24 hours a day, every day.
Other ways to contact NHS 111 include calling 18001 111 using text relay, 24 hours a day. British sign language (BSL) users can use the NHS 111 video interpreter service by going towww.signvideo.co.uk/nhs111. For help in other languages, please call 111 and ask for an interpreter.
Anyone requiring eye care services should be aware the Community Urgent Eyecare Service (CUES) can help people access free urgent NHS care. Find a CUES optician at primaryeyecare.co.uk/find-a-practice. If you have any problems accessing CUES, call 111. More information is available at: PE-UES-A5-Leaflet-Web.pdf (primaryeyecare.co.uk).
*Statistic courtesy of Pharmacy2U, 2017.