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‘Help Us Help You’ to get the right care this May Bank Holiday weekend

Healthcare bosses in Herefordshire are reminding people that even over the Bank Holiday weekend the NHS remains open and available to anyone who needs it.

The public are reminded that if they need medical help, but it is not a life-threatening emergency, there are options available that can help.

Demand on local hospital emergency departments, the ambulance service and GPs across the two counties continues to grow beyond pre-pandemic levels.

Dr Ian Tait, GP and Chair of NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire CCG said: “It’s important to plan ahead and make sure you’re fully prepared for the Bank Holiday weekend.

"There are a number of different things people can do to be ready, for example, collect your repeat prescription in good time, keep your medicine cabinet stocked and know which healthcare services are available to you.

“We are seeing increased pressure on all our services and we are asking people for their support – to access the right NHS service for their need. If you need help when your local GP Surgery is not open, you can call 111, which is a free NHS Service and can quickly direct you to the right health service, including out of hours GP appointments. Pharmacists can also help with a range of common conditions and minor injuries.” 

Andy Parker, Chief Operating Officer at Wye Valley NHS Trust, said:  “while A&E is open, people who turn up with minor ailments could face a long wait as priority will be given to seriously ill patients.

“Our team of staff in A&E will be working over the BankHoliday weekend, but with the high number of patients attending, we will prioritise patients and those with minor injuries that could be treated elsewhere may have a long wait.

“We’re here for you if you need medical care, but please choose wisely and consider alternatives to A&E to make sure you get the right care and treatment you need.”

Dr Christine Blanshard, Chief Medical Officer at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“Demand on our hospital services remains very high with our staff still caring for a growing number of patients with Covid as well as facing a continued increase in demand for urgent and emergency care. We are seeing more patients attending our emergency departments each day, with some patients attending with minor ailments, which could be dealt with at a pharmacy, through their GP, or at one of Worcestershire’s Minor Injuries Units.

“Staff across our Emergency Departments and partner NHS services are working incredibly hard to ensure patients get the help they need, as quickly and safely as possible as we know that long waits, either outside or inside our hospitals, mean that our patients do not always get the experience of care that we would want.

“Members of the public can help us reduce ambulance delays by using NHS 111 online to get advice on the most appropriate service rather than call 999 unless it’s a life-threatening emergency. I would also urge anyone if you have not yet had the Covid vaccine or booster please do it now.”

Nathan Hudson, Emergency Services Operations Delivery Director at West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “The ambulance service is available 24/7 and ready to assist when you need us, but we do need the public to think whether there are alternatives to ringing 999, particularly if your call is not a life-threatening emergency.  If you are unsure which service to use, try ringing 111 first: if you need an ambulance it won’t delay the dispatch of our crews but it could mean that you get a more appropriate service for your needs.  If we all use the health service wisely then everyone benefits.”

There will be a change in opening times for some NHS services, including GP practices and pharmacies, with some closures over the Bank Holiday weekend. Pharmacy open times can be found here NHS England and NHS Improvement Midlands » Bank Holiday pharmacy opening times

People are reminded to think NHS 111 first, this means calling 111 or visiting 111.nhs.uk for any urgent but not life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Trained advisers can direct people to the best possible care for their needs, including arranging an out-of-hours GP appointment or an appointment time to attend A&E or a Minor Injury Unit. Worcestershire MIU details here: Minor Injury Units (MIUs) in Worcestershire | Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust (hacw.nhs.uk)

Local pharmacists can also give expert, confidential advice as well as medicines for minor ailments such as colds, tummy troubles and much more.

Anyone who has not yet had both vaccinations or had their first vaccination over 8 weeks ago can book an appointment online at nhs.uk/CovidVaccine or visit a local walk-in site. Walk-in availability for Herefordshire and Worcestershire can be found here: https://herefordshireandworcestershireccg.nhs.uk/covid-19-vaccine/vaccination-sites

The public are reminded that face coverings are required in all healthcare settings across the country and social distancing measures remain in place in our local NHS services.