The ‘be prepared’ call comes ahead of industrial action by consultants (senior doctors who see patients and are responsible for supervising junior doctors and other staff) from 7am on Thursday 24 August until 7am on Saturday 26 August, and the August Bank Holiday weekend when practices are closed for a longer period.
This is to allow plenty of time for GP practices to process prescriptions and pharmacies to prepare the medications. It is recommended to order prescriptions a week in advance.
People are also reminded that they can get advice and treatment for lots of minor illnesses 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. You can find out more on NHS Greater Manchester’s website.
Junior doctors have already taken action in August in a ninth month of industrial action (11-15 August).
As with previous periods of strike action, NHS Greater Manchester has robust plans in place to prioritise resources to protect emergency treatment and critical care, minimise impact on patients and maintain patient safety. However, disruption to services will be unavoidable.
NHS Greater Manchester is asking for the public’s support in making sure it can treat those who need urgent care, by encouraging people to only call 999 or attend A&E if someone is seriously ill or injured or if their life is at risk.
During the strike action, the NHS will still be there for those who need it and is reminding the public to continue accessing services when they need medical care. There are numerous health services available throughout the bank holiday and strike period in Greater Manchester.
Dr Manisha Kumar, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care, 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.
“Our message remains the same in that it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases.
“To help us treat those patients who need urgent care, we are asking members of the public to support us by using the most appropriate service for their needs. NHS 111 should be your first port-of-call (unless your call relates to a child under 5), as they can give you advice on services and care.
“NHS 111 may also be able to support if you do run out of repeat medication for the Bank Holiday.”
Dr Kumar added: “We are well versed by now in ensuring we can continue to deliver safe care during periods of industrial action.
“However, services can feel different for patients at these times, and we could see longer waits when busy in emergency departments, non-urgent outpatient appointments rescheduled and treatment being postponed, though people should still attend their appointments unless they have been contacted and told not to.”
NHS Greater Manchester’s Get to Know Where to Go (GTKWTG) campaign is supporting the public in knowing which service will be best for their needs as well as equipping them with the knowledge to take steps to look after their own health – helping ease pressure on emergency services during days of strike action. The GTKWTG webpage helps people understand which service is right for them based on their symptoms.
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 to www.signvideo.co.uk/nhs111. For help in other languages, please call 111 and ask for an interpreter.
There are GP out-of-hours services during evenings and weekends (including the Bank Holiday) which can be accessed via the 111 service.
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.
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).
Advice ahead of the industrial action:
- Have a well-stocked first aid drawer.
- Use your local pharmacy – NHS GM’s website has a list of bank holiday opening times for all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester: Augustpharmacy | Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership (gmintegratedcare.org.uk).
- Take a note of *urgent helplines.
- make sure your repeat prescriptions are ordered and collected.