28 May 2024

Support busy NHS during May’s bank holidays by choosing right care options

A double-bill of bank holiday weekends during May has prompted health leaders locally to remind the public to always choose the right service when seeking help and support.

Many GP practices and pharmacies will be closed for bank holiday weekends at both the beginning and end of next month, which could lead to increased pressure and heightened demand at the region’s already-busy hospital emergency departments.

As such, people are being asked to prioritise self-care for minor illness and injury, and to seek advice from NHS 111 online for conditions that may be more serious, but do not require a trip to hospital.

Using NHS 111 online allows people to take control of their own health and wellbeing, with the service able to provide person-specific advice and information on how to care for health concerns at home.

For conditions that require an in-person assessment, 111 can also signpost people towards those health services unaffected by the bank holidays.

Dr Barry Coakley, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “Our local NHS is always very busy, and our frontline teams often feel this pressure even more acutely during a bank holiday weekend, as well as in the days that follow.

“With two bank holiday weekends coming up, and at a time of year when people will be keen to spend time outdoors, it’s really important that any person in need of help chooses the option most appropriate to their symptoms.

“In most cases, this means just staying at home and resting, especially for people showing signs of norovirus, flu and Covid-19, all of which are still circulating in our communities and have the potential to make those more vulnerable very poorly.

“This advice, while particularly pertinent ahead of a spate of bank holidays, is valid at any time of year, and we thank people across all our communities in advance for their continued support of their local NHS.”

Some pharmacies in the region will remain open on Monday 6 and Monday 27 May, and these sites will be able to support people needing emergency prescriptions, as well as those looking for quick in-person advice and guidance.

People who would usually collect their prescription on a Monday are advised to check they have enough of a supply to cover the days when most pharmacies will be shut, and to order any extra medicine needed before the long weekends.

Details of which pharmacies will be open during both May bank holidays can be found online using the Find a Pharmacy tool at www.nhs.uk.

Information on all local health services, including those that are open around the clock, such as hospitals, urgent treatment centres and out-of-hours GPs, is available at www.bsw.icb.nhs.uk.

Written by
Andy Munns
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Written by Andy Munns