NHS bosses urging people to make healthy preparations for long, Easter Bank Holiday weekend

20 March 2024 5 min read

NHS bosses are asking people to plan ahead for the Easter Bank Holiday weekend (Friday 29 March to Monday 1 April) by ordering any repeat prescriptions they might need, now.

Repeat prescriptions

Repeat prescriptions should be ordered at least seven working days ahead of the Bank Holiday to guarantee that they will be available in time.

Using the NHS App is the quickest and easiest way to order repeat prescriptions at a time that is convenient to you, and it puts you in greater control of your own health. You can also use the App to choose at which pharmacy you’d like to collect your medication. You can also use it to track the progress of your order.

Urgent care

People are also being urged to make sure that they know how to access urgent care if they need it over the Easter weekend.  

If someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life may be at risk, you should call 999 or go to A&E.

But hospitals can get very busy over a long Bank Holiday weekend, which is why NHS 111 is the best first point of call for any non-emergency healthcare treatment and advice. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by phoning 111, or online at www.111.nhs.uk  

If needed, NHS 111 can arrange a call back from a nurse, doctor, or paramedic or they can book you an appointment at a local pharmacy, urgent treatment centre, or hospital A&E department.

Discharge from hospital 

NHS staff across Cheshire and Merseyside are working hard to ensure that all patients who are fit enough to return home from hospital in time for Easter can do so safely. 

Anyone with a family member who is ready to be discharged, is asked to work with hospital staff to help them get home as quickly as possible. Leaving hospital when they are able to is better for the individual and it helps make bed space available for the next patient who might need to be admitted.

Minor health concerns

For advice and treatment for minor health concerns, people are also reminded they can visit an NHS walk-in or urgent treatment centre.

Or they might want to think about using the new ‘Pharmacy First’ service, which means pharmacists can assess and treat patients for common conditions without the need for a GP appointment or prescription first.

You can search for your nearest pharmacy and find out their opening times at www.nhs.uk/find-a-pharmacy.

Parents and carers

Parents and carers are reminded that if your child is unwell, you can visit the Alder Hey online symptom checker at www.alderhey.nhs.uk/conditions/symptoms-checker  

Th symptom checker includes helpful advice on how to treat your child at home, and when to seek further medical help.

More information

More information about when to visit urgent treatment centres, when to call 999 and when to go to A&E is available via the national NHS website at: www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/urgent-and-emergency-care-services  

Don’t wait

Susanne Lynch MBE, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s Chief Pharmacist said: “Please remember to plan ahead and order any repeat prescriptions in plenty of time before the Easter Bank Holiday period when GP practices are closed, and some pharmacies will also be closed or opening with reduced hours.

“Don’t wait for your prescription to run out, as it can take time for your request to be approved by your GP practice and dispensed by your pharmacy. We advise planning around seven days in advance.”

Very busy

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s Deputy Medical Director, Dr Fiona Lemmens said: "We want to remind people that our hospitals can often become very busy over a long bank holiday weekend, and to make NHS 111 their first point of call for all non-emergency healthcare treatment and advice. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 111 or online at: www.111.nhs.uk

"You should still call 999 or go to A&E in an emergency situation when someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life may be at risk. But if you need any other medical help and you're not sure where to go, please use NHS 111 to get assessed and quickly directed to the right place for you.”

Physical health and mental wellbeing

Dr Lemmens continued: “We know that it’s much better for a patient’s physical health and mental wellbeing to leave hospital as soon as they can, once they are medically ready to go home.

"So if you have a family member who is being discharged, please work with hospital staff to make sure this happens as quickly as it possibly can. Not only is this better for them, but it also helps make that bed space available for the next patient who might need to be admitted.”

You can also watch Dr Sinead Clarke, Associate Medical Director for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside providing three tips for Easter Bank Holiday access to services, here. 

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