The NHS is launching a local campaign to help make it clear what to do and where to go if you feel unwell and your GP practice is closed.
In a recent public consultation people told NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group that services were confusing and that during evening and weekends when their GP was closed, they knew they shouldn’t go to A&E but didn’t know what to do.
The key message the NHS wants people to remember is, if your GP practice is closed and you feel unwell call NHS111 to be directed to the most appropriate care.
Dr Stewart Findlay, Chief Officer at the CCG said, “When people feel unwell but their GP is closed we know they are confused about what services are available, sometimes they go to A&E which is only for life threatening emergencies and this puts pressure on the NHS system. We want people to know what to do to help themselves and the NHS. You can help us help you get the right medical attention urgently.”
During the day if you feel unwell think GP first. Call your GP practice between 8am – 6pm. If you have a same day health need which is not a life-threatening emergency they may offer you an urgent appointment if available or, based on your clinical need, book you into one of the extended access hubs which are open until 8pm weekdays. If you feel unwell after 6pm or during the weekend call NHS111.
When you call 111 you will speak to a trained health adviser from the local NHS111 team. They will ask questions to assess you and determine the most appropriate place for you to receive the care you need. Based on your clinical need they can book appointments at Urgent Treatment Centres and in some cases at GP practices.
The NHS want you to go to your pharmacy for ailments like diarrhoea, runny nose, coughs, hangovers and headaches. Pharmacists can also help with general health and wellbeing and stopping smoking, some are open until 11pm.
Dr Findlay said, “The NHS belongs to us all. Let’s use it responsibly so we can develop and invest in local services to make the NHS fit for the future.”