Use the right NHS service for your needs this bank holiday weekend

Q1 NHS 111

Doctors in Devon are reassuring local people that the NHS is still there for them if they are unwell and need help, but reminding them that opening hours for some services may be different due to the bank holiday weekend.

GP practices will be closed on Monday 25 May for the bank holiday, but other services are available for people with urgent health needs over the holiday period.

The advice for people this weekend is:

– If you have needed urgent advice and aren’t sure where to go, visit 111 online or phone 111
– A selection of pharmacies across Devon will be open on the Bank Holiday. Pharmacy opening hours are available on the NHS website
– GP practices will open again on Tuesday 26 May. For non-urgent requests, submit an eConsult on your GP practice website and they will pick it up when they open again after the bank holiday
– Download the NHS App for advice, to order repeat prescriptions, or make appointments
– The HANDI paediatric app is available for parents to use when their children are ill
– A&E is open 24 hours for serious and life-threatening injury or illness

Dr Paul Johnson, a Devon GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are coming up to a bank holiday – the first since the relaxation of the rules that now allow us to get out into the open air to enjoy Devon’s coast and country. Please take care if you are headed outdoors this weekend, whatever you are doing.

“Maintaining people’s safety is our paramount concern. When accessing local facilities, please follow any measures put in place to support social distancing and wash your hands frequently.

“We are following national guidance about reducing unnecessary face-to-face contact, and this includes within healthcare settings.

“If you need to be seen by a healthcare professional, your consultation may be via phone, video or in person. If you are advised that you need to be seen, you may be directed to a minor injuries unit or A&E and measures are in place to keep you safe.

“Health and care services across Devon are working hard to ensure that patients who need to be seen, can be seen safely, limiting exposure to staff and other patients”

Hospitals and GP practices across Devon have put in place special measures to protect patients and staff from COVID-19, whether they are treating a patient with symptoms of the virus, or for other illnesses. In many cases, those affected by the virus are being seen in separate areas. Safety measures are in place to protect patients and staff at healthcare sites, including personal protective equipment, social distancing arrangements, spacing out between patients and infection control measures.

People can also get medical help and advice online through a range of apps that are available. People can seek non-urgent advice on the NHS App or advice for common childhood illnesses on the HANDi paediatric app.

Many community pharmacies will also be open over the bank holiday weekend. Find your nearest pharmacy and its opening times here:

Dr Johnson added: “There is capacity across Devon to treat all those needing urgent and emergency care, and we want patients to continue to access services. While patients have rightly responded to the expert advice on staying at home, they should still seek medical help when they need it.”

“People should continue to call 999 and attend the A&E Departments if they believe they have a serious illness, for example, if they or a loved one see the signs of a stroke, severe chest pain or worsening asthma.

“Our message is simple – we are still here for you if you need help.”

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