“Help us to treat you quicker” NHS East Lancashire is urging residents.
The message is part of the Choose Well campaign run by the health authority for the upcoming bank holiday.
Residents are being reminded that by using the right health services over the bank holiday while GP surgeries are closed, it will mean they get treatment quicker and help avoid delays in urgent care.
People are also urged to plan ahead and seek medical advice before the bank holiday rather than leaving it until the weekend, which will lead to greater pressure on the service and longer waiting times.
Over the four-day Easter break more than 2,000 patients attended emergency and walk-in centres across East Lancashire. Many attended hospital with minor conditions, such as small cuts and minor stomach upsets, which could have been treated by an our-of-hours GP.
This bank holiday, people are being asked to self-treat where possible or phone the NHS Direct helpline, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on 0845 46 47, or they can get information at www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk
Where necessary, residents should seek advice from their pharmacist.
Although running a reduced service, several pharmacies will remain open over the bank holiday. For full opening times visit: www.eastlancspct.nhs.uk/patients/feeling-unwell/
The out-of-hours GP service is based on the Royal Blackburn Hospital site and is available 24 hours over the bank holiday weekend. To access this service phone: 0845 22 62 626
For help finding an NHS Dentist or for urgent and routine care for patients, Blackburn and East Lancs Dental Services will be available on 0845 5333230 over the bank holiday weekend.
For illnesses and injuries requiring urgent attention, the Urgent Care Centres at Royal Blackburn Hospital and Burnley General Hospital are open 24 hours, seven days a week. For serious and life-threatening illnesses/injuries dial 999 for an ambulance or visit the emergency department at Royal Blackburn Hospital.
Clare Clark, Matron for Urgent and Emergency Care at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Although we had some success in helping to reduce pressures on services over the previous bank holidays, it was disappointing that some people still arrived at our Urgent Care Centres with problems that had been bothering them for days: instead of making a timely GP appointment, people had left conditions until the bank holiday to have them treated.
“Patients who ‘choose well’ and those who can look after themselves through self-care and NHS direct will be helping the emergency department and the urgent care centres to avoid delays.”
Dr John Haworth, Medical Director for NHS East Lancashire said: “Seek advice from pharmacies or NHS Direct in the first instance if you are feeling under the weather. Or contact the out of hours GP service if this is more appropriate. A well-stocked medicine cupboard is an essential, and there will be a number of pharmacies remaining open.
“Finally, please do not come to the emergency department if you have a cough, cold, sore throat or similar minor illness – all you will do is spread germs in public waiting areas, potentially to vulnerable people. Only contact 999 or visit the emergency department if your illness is life-threatening.”