With Easter fast approaching, Devon’s NHS leaders are calling on people to take preventative measures ahead of the bank holidays and after as lockdown restrictions start to ease and ‘staycations’ start.
The long Easter weekend traditionally puts extra pressure on health services when most GP practices are closed and more people are outdoors enjoying everything Devon has to offer.
Most GP practices will be closed for Easter for four days from Friday 2 April to Monday 5 April, with normal opening hours resuming on Tuesday.
Each Easter sees many patients calling the NHS 111 helpline because they have run out of medication, leading to unnecessary worry for themselves and increasing pressure on busy urgent care and out-of-hours NHS services.
Dr Paul Johnson, GP and chair of NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Please be prepared this Easter check that you have enough of your prescription medication to get you through the long weekend and any trips away that you may take.”
Many people will be looking forward to going away from 12 April, as lockdown restrictions ease, but the NHS in Devon is reminding patients to ensure they have sufficient medication to last the four day Easter bank holiday weekend and for the duration of any trips away.
Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets are expected to be permitted to reopen from 12 April.
People are being reminded that if they need to speak to their GP while away from home after the bank holiday weekend, they can contact their practice for an online consultation. This advice also applies to visitors travelling to Devon. All GP practices now offer remote consultations, either online or by telephone, and they should be contacted for advice.
For urgent advice, the message is to ‘Think 111 first’. NHS 111 can be contacted from anywhere by phone or online, at any time of day or night.
If you need further care or medication, NHS 111 advisors will direct you to the most appropriate service. They can book you in for an appointment at your nearest Minor Injury Unit or Urgent Care Centre.
If you need emergency care, NHS 111 advisors will arrange for you to be seen at a local Emergency Department. They will ensure that staff in the department are expecting you and will see you as quickly as possible. They may need to prioritise other patients based on their clinical need.
Dr Johnson added: “We know some people are keen to travel when lockdown restrictions ease. We want to ensure people are able to enjoy their trips and the bank holiday weekend, without having to spend time worrying about how to access medical care if they need it.
“The NHS is here if you need us. Contacting 111 first will get you the right treatment, more quickly. You can access the most appropriate care and advice more quickly and conveniently by calling 111 or visiting 111.nhs.uk, at any time of day or night.”