Public urged to know their local healthcare options as many pharmacies and GP practices close for long Christmas weekend
Many pharmacies and GP practices across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire will be closed for four consecutive days over the Christmas period.
Due to Boxing Day falling on a Saturday, a substitute bank holiday will be held on Monday 28 December, meaning many pharmacies and GP practices will close at the end of the day on Christmas Eve, and not reopen until Tuesday 29 December.
Health and care professionals in the region have advised members of the public to familiarise themselves with the healthcare options nearest to them that will be open over the long weekend.
As well as hospital emergency departments, which remain open 24 hours a day, some minor injuries units in the region will also be open to offer care and treatment.
However, any person wishing to use these facilities is advised to first contact NHS 111, either by phone or online, as doing so will help ensure that people needing help are directed to the most appropriate service.
People contacting NHS 111 first will also be given a specific time at which to arrive at either their nearest hospital or minor injuries unit, which will help reduce crowded waiting rooms and ensure those most in need are given priority.
Dr Andrew Girdher, Clinical Chair, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, said: “This year, more than ever, has shown us that the NHS never completely shuts down and, as we approach Christmas and New Year, I want people to know that the NHS will continue to be there for them.
“But we all know that the festive period can be particularly busy for the NHS, and sometimes those small Christmas-related illnesses and injuries, such as upset stomachs, minor burns and sore throats, are best treated at home with medicine that can be bought over the counter.
“To support our busy hospitals and minor injuries units, both of which have reduced capacity to help with social distancing, please always contact NHS 111 before leaving home, as this will mean you are signposted to the service that’s right for you, which in turn ensures staff are able to tend to those most in need.
“Of course, when it comes to very serious health conditions which could be life-threatening, do not hesitate in phoning 999 straight away.”
A handful of pharmacies across the region will be open on Christmas Day for people in need or urgent medication or quick healthcare advice.
These include Facechoice Pharmacy in Swindon, which is open between 10am and 1pm, Shaunaks Pharmacy in Corsham, which is open between 11am and 1pm, and Jhoots Pharmacy in Odd Down, which is open between 1pm and 3pm.
The ICB’s Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) service, which helps people to arrange repeat prescriptions by phone or email will also be open throughout the festive period, except on weekends and bank holidays.
Christmas opening times for all pharmacies in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire can be found here:
Information on how to treat mild seasonal illnesses, as well as details about NHS 111, can be found at www.nhs.uk