Reduced services from doctors, pharmacies, dentists and opticians can be cause for concern over long Bank Holiday periods. The pressure on the NHS is expected to spike over the four-day weekend, but there are options in Greater Manchester if people urgently need out-of-hours services.
To make sure that people remain safe as the Jubilee weekend is well underway, here are all the details you need to know about where you can get medical care over the coming days. They include dental help, eye care, GP services, and pharmacy services.
The NHS in Greater Manchester continues to be very busy with high demand for services, high levels of hospital bed occupancy and tackling the elective backlog. Emergency service bosses have warned that, following ‘the busiest days we’ve had this year’ over the Easter weekend, they anticipate another high volume of 999 calls.
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Calls handled by NHS 111 rose by 66 per cent over the Easter Bank Holiday, according to North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), which manages the service. NWAS says it is expecting an equally busy period over the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend and is encouraging the public to use the 111 service in the first instance.
The online service works the same as over the phone and is already popular with people who want quick advice about the best options for getting the care they need. These can include getting a call back from a trained clinician or nurse, booking them an appointment in A&E, or providing advice – NHS 111 online is not suitable for under 5s.
Jackie Bell, Head of 111 in the North West, recommends the public try NHS 111 online to get quick health advice: “We expect it to be another extremely busy time for our 111 health advisors and clinicians. Over the four-day Easter weekend, we triaged almost 27,000 calls. It was the four busiest days we’ve had this year, and this weekend is likely to be the same.
“We are prepared for this, but callers may wait longer to get through on the phone at the busiest times. For this reason, we’d recommend using NHS 111 online if you can. You answer the same questions and receive the same advice, but it’s likely to be quicker.”
111.nhs.uk can help you with: Where to get help for your symptoms, if you’re not sure what to do, how to find general health information and advice, where to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine, how to get a repeat prescription, get emergency dental appointments
You should still ring 999 if you experience: signs of a heart attack like pain like a heavy weight in the centre of your chest, signs of stroke such as your face dropping on one side, difficulty breathing, heavy bleeding that won’t stop, seizures, or sudden and rapid swelling of the eyes, lips, throat or tongue
Greater Manchester medics are also telling the public they can get help for common illnesses with over-the-counter medicines, and via their GP surgery and local pharmacy.
Information specific to the region can be found here:
• Dental help: The Greater Manchester dental helpline (0333 332 3800) is available from 8am to 10pm every day, including weekends and Bank Holidays for those who need help urgently when their practice is closed, or do not have a regular dentist.
• GP out-of-hours service: To access care out-of-hours between 6:30pm and 8:00am, call your GP surgery on their usual number. Specific hours and the way to book appointments may vary.
• Pharmacy opening times:Jubilee pharmacy opening times across Greater Manchester can be found here
For mental health care, these are the following details Greater Manchester residents can use:
Mental Health support can be found at: .
Greater Manchester crisis phone helplines provide support 24 hours a day, seven days a week to people of all ages, including children, who need urgent mental health support. Our crisis lines aim to help people who need urgent mental health support because they are experiencing emotional distress and are struggling to cope.
The crisis helplines also take calls from family members, carers or anyone who is concerned that someone they know is experiencing a mental health crisis.
The crisis helpline phone numbers are as follows:
Bolton, Manchester, Salford, and Trafford: 0800 953 0285 (freephone)
Bury, Heywood, Middleton & Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport, and Tameside & Glossop: 0800 014 9995 (freephone)
Wigan: 0800 051 3253 (freephone)
Aneet Kapoor, pharmacist and chair, Greater Manchester Local Pharmacy Network said: “In addition to NHS 111, pharmacists can give confidential and expert advice on everyday illnesses. There are lots of pharmacies open until late as well as at weekends and you don’t need an appointment. Most pharmacies also have a confidential consulting area for anyone who wants to talk in private, so it is always a good idea to think pharmacy first.
“One of the best things you can do is to keep some basic medicines at home, so you have them available when unexpected minor illness or injury occurs. Most minor illnesses will start to get better within a couple of days.”
Over the extended bank holiday weekend more people will be out and about socialising, taking part in sporting activities, gardening, barbequing and generally doing things that may increase the risk of an injury, according to the region’s health board, the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.
By not spending long periods in the direct sun, staying hydrated and using sunscreen you can protect yourself from feeling unwell, as the heat can bring added health risks for many. The health chiefs advise people to remember to drink responsibly, to try to avoid large crowds or wear a face mask in crowded spaces, and only call 999 in a life-threatening emergency.
Lots more useful information on common health conditions can be found online on the NHS website – NHS (www.nhs.uk) .
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