For many, Christmas and new year is a time for celebration and a chance to enjoy a break over the bank holidays, but whatever your plans, don’t let falling ill ruin your long weekend.
NHS North Kirklees and NHS Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are reminding people that a number of local pharmacies will be open over the bank holidays. This means that patients can still access healthcare advice and support for common conditions from trained health professionals when their own GP practice is closed. Pharmacists can offer advice on common ailments such as coughs, colds and aches and pains.
Most common ailments can be treated at home by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet – an essential medicine cabinet should include:
- pain relief, such as paracetamol and aspirin (aspirin should not be given to children under 16 or to people with asthma)
- paediatric paracetamol oral suspension or ibuprofen syrups for children
- mild laxatives to relieve constipation
- cold relief products
- rehydration mixtures for diarrhoea or vomiting, to use if feeling dehydrated after a bout of sickness or diarrhoea
- indigestion remedy
- travel sickness tablets for family trips
- tweezers and sharp scissors to remove splinters and cut bandages
- a thermometer to check for fever
- a range of bandages, plasters, non-absorbent cotton wool, elastic bandages and dressings for minor cuts, sprains and bruises.
Always keep medicines out of the sight and reach of children. A high, lockable cupboard in a cool, dry place is ideal.
Also, don’t forget to check the expiry dates on medicines regularly. If a medicine is past its use-by date, don’t use it or throw it away. Take it to your pharmacy, where it can be disposed of safely.
When medical help is needed, but it is not an emergency, people can ring NHS 111 for advice and direction to the most appropriate service. NHS 111 is available 24-hours-a-day; 365-days-a-year and is free to call from landlines and mobile phones.
When you call 111 you will be assessed, given advice and directed straight away to the local service that can help you best – that could be an out-of-hours doctor, walk-in centre, community nurse, emergency dentist or late opening chemist.
Don’t forget, people should only use A&E or dial 999 in critical or life-threatening situations. For example:
- loss of consciousness
- acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
- persistent, severe chest pain
- breathing difficulties
- severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- severe allergic reactions
- severe burns or scalds
In the case of suspected heart attack or stroke call 999 immediately. Every second counts with these conditions.
Dr David Kelly, local GP and Chair of NHS North Kirklees CCG, said: “A lot of people don’t realise how much time and money they cost the local NHS when they use A&E for minor illnesses. A&E is for accident and emergency cases only, such as severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, significant head injuries and broken bones.
Many patients who attend A&E or call 999 could be treated more quickly by their GP, their local pharmacist, or even by themselves with basic self-care, first aid or telephone advice from NHS 111.”
It is also really important that anyone with a long-term health condition, needing regular medication, orders any repeat prescriptions they need ahead of the bank holiday period, when GP practices will be closed. Check opening times with your GP practice.
Dr Steve Ollerton, local GP and Chair of NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG, said: “During bank holidays we tend to see an increase in calls to our out-of-hours GP service from people who have simply forgotten to re-order prescription medicines such as asthma inhalers. But forgetting to get enough supplies can put a lot of strain on the service, which is there to deal with urgent health problems.”
“The message is simple: If you have a repeat prescription, please check that you have enough to last over the days that your GP practice is closed. That way you don’t risk getting ill if you run out or have to take up an out-of-hours GP’s time to issue another prescription.”
With prescribed medicines and those bought over-the-counter, follow the advice of the pharmacist, doctor or nurse. People should always read the instructions and never go over the suggested dose.