Somerset doctors: “If it’s not urgent or an emergency, try your local pharmacy or NHS 111” - 25 May 2016

Somerset doctors: “If it’s not urgent or an emergency, try your local pharmacy or NHS 111” - 25 May 2016

“If it’s not urgent or an emergency, try your local pharmacy or phone NHS 111” – that’s the message from doctors at Musgrove Park Hospital ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend.

By choosing the right service this Bank Holiday, people can get the best treatment in the shortest time, while keeping A&E available for emergencies and those with life-threatening conditions.

The advice comes as temperatures are set to hit the late teens this weekend and many people are expected to be out and about enjoying themselves in the sun.

Dr Jon Tipping, emergency care consultant at Musgrove Park Hospital, said: “With more people out in the garden or down the beach this Bank Holiday weekend there will inevitably be an increase in trips and falls, insect bites, hay fever, or other minor ailments.

“Our message to people is that if they need health advice quickly, but it’s not urgent or an emergency they should try their local pharmacy or phone NHS 111.

“If it’s less serious people could try self-care in the first instance. Make sure you stock up on over-the-counter medicines, such as paracetamol, bandages, sticking plasters, and antiseptic cream or indigestion tablets.

“Many pharmacies are open over the weekend, particularly at some large supermarkets. Pharmacists don’t just dispense medicine – they can also offer free expert advice on a wide range of health issues, support for self-care and medicines to treat common complaints such as coughs and colds, flu, hay fever, sore throats, earache, backache, stomach upsets and cuts and grazes.”

Dr Ed Ford, a Minehead GP and Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group’s Urgent Care Lead said: “Remember, you can help yourself and the NHS when you get the right treatment for your level of illness or injury.    

“If you need urgent medical advice, but it is not a life threatening emergency, then telephone NHS 111. Their call handlers can tell you anything from where to find an emergency dentist to getting you an out-of-hour’s doctor.”

The NHS in Somerset has issued a number of steps people can take to make sure they are prepared for the Bank Holiday weekend.

  • Self-care: Having a few basic items in your bathroom medicine cabinet can save you time and effort should you become ill. Items like paracetamol, a bandage, sticking plasters, and antiseptic cream or indigestion tablets. If troublesome symptoms persist or worsen see your GP. There is more advice online at:
  • Visit your local pharmacy: If you feeling unwell and need advice, visit your pharmacy. You can find your nearest pharmacist by searching online at:  or by telephoning 111.
  • Telephone NHS 111: Telephone 111 when you need medical advice or information quickly, but it’s not a 999 life threatening emergency. Calls are free from mobiles and landlines to this 24/7 service. You should also call 111 if you become ill after your GP surgery has closed and need urgent advice or medical help. You will be assessed, given advice and directed straight away to the local service that will help you best.
  • Out-of-hours GP urgent care service: Should you become ill after your GP surgery has closed, ring your surgery’s telephone number and listen to the answer phone message or telephone 111 for advice. Remember to re-order any routine prescription medicines you need a week before the May Bank Holiday. 
  • Minor injuries units (MIU): There are minor injuries units (MIU) at community hospitals in Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Chard, Frome, Glastonbury, Minehead and Shepton Mallet. If your injury is not serious, you can get help from an MIU rather than a busy hospital A&E department. By doing so you allow A&E staff to concentrate on people with serious and life-threatening conditions and save yourself a potentially long wait. To check your local MIU’s location and opening hours telephone 111 or go to:
  • Hospital A&E: Hospital A&E or the 999 ambulance service will be treating patients who are seriously unwell or have a life threatening condition.