Almost 100,000 additional general practice appointments will be available right across the country over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, with patients in the South West set to benefit from local plans for convenient care, the NHS has confirmed.
As part of its Long Term Plan for the health service, the NHS is making access to primary care including local surgeries and their wider teams more convenient, with evening and weekend consultations being available in all regions.
Over the long weekend, thanks to the increased number of appointments available, people in need of medical advice and help will be more likely to be able to see their local family doctor than in previous years, offering more convenience and stopping problems getting worse.
With more than 98,000 additional appointments available in general practice over the bank holiday across England, extended access in the South West will help to meet the traditionally high demand over the Easter period.
The NHS is encouraging people to “help us to help you” by taking advantage of the range of health services available, including local surgeries, the 111 phone line and website, as well as calling 999 or going to A&E in an emergency.
This will ensure patients get seen in the right place and at the right time, often closer to home, and helps to ease the pressures on busy hospitals.
Dr Michael Marsh, Regional Medical Director for NHS England South West said:
“There are GP appointments available in the South West of England over the Easter weekend while many pharmacies, which can provide professional help relating to minor ailments, will also be open. The public can check on www.nhs.uk to see which GP surgeries are open and when, or look at our website for pharmacy opening times and locations.
“Out-of-hours all GP surgeries provide a service either directly or through NHS 111. People can also call NHS 111 if they have an urgent medical problem and are not sure what to do. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, call 18001 111 on a text phone.”
Dom Hardy, NHS England’s Director of Primary Care and System Transformation, said:
“With access to GPs at weekends and evenings right across the country since the end of last year, this Easter as the NHS delivers its Long Term Plan for the health service, patients will have better access to family doctors than ever before.
“The bank holiday weekend is always a busy time for the NHS, but local health services have been working around the country to ensure there is adequate capacity both in and out of hospital for patients while also ensuring they have access to services when GPs close.
“A&Es and 999 continue to be there for anyone in an emergency and it’s important that people know how to get quick and expert help over the bank holiday, and seeking advice early is they feel unwell – not only from your local GP but online and over the phone – can mean health problems are caught early, allowing everyone to enjoy their days off and avoid a trip to A&E.
“Primary care services – whether delivered by GPs, nurses and increasingly by physios based out of community surgeries – are vital for our patients, and across the country plans are in place to ensure appropriate services are available for patients this Easter, during the day and out of hours.”
At the end of 2018 NHS England confirmed that evening and weekend appointments are available across the country, with an average of 24,500 additional extended access GP appointments open for patients each day.
This equates to 98,000 additional appointments being available over the four-day bank holiday and means there is far greater capacity and more options for patients to get their needs met over the extended break.
100% of the population will have access to extended access appointments over the bank holiday weekend, either at their local practice or at a hub site.
What should people do if they need an appointment over the weekend?
- If you think you need an appointment with your GP, call your practice who will be able to advise. Evening and weekends appointments are available too. You will be seen by the most appropriate member of the family doctor team. If it is not your GP, you may see a nurse, pharmacist, physiotherapist or practitioner associate, depending on your needs.
- If you have a minor illness or need over the counter medicines – try your local pharmacy. Rotas for the South West are available here.
- If you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do, call NHS 111.
- Only if it is an emergency should you call 999 or go to A&E.