A NHS campaign is urging people to take early action if they start to feel unwell this Easter.
The message to ‘be prepared and stay well’ over the holiday period encourages people most at risk, including those with long-term health conditions and the over 65s, to prepare for the Easter holiday period and to know what to do if they get ill.
This includes seeking advice from a pharmacist as soon as possible and before any illness gets more serious, and ordering prescriptions in advance.
Dr Jonathan Slade, NHS England’s Deputy Medical Director, in Cumbria and the North East, and a practicing GP, said: “Simple steps can be taken to stay well over the Easter period and reduce the chance of serious illness.
“Pharmacies offer convenient, expert advice to people who have the first signs of illness. If you feel your illness is more urgent and need advice about where to go for medical treatment, then you should call NHS 111 – advice is available 24/7.
“Please order you prescription medicines in advance and make sure you are stocked up for the holiday period.”
The ‘be prepared’ call comes at a time when the NHS has faced increased, sustained pressure and unprecedented demand following severe cold weather. There is also a spike in demand on NHS services during the Easter holiday.
Norovirus is continuing to affect NHS trust sites across the region. The virus, which usually starts with a sense of ‘feeling sick’ followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, is highly contagious. Anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person should stay away from hospital sites, unless their visit is absolutely necessary.
Dr Jeremy Rushmer, Executive Medical Director, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We remain very busy as our beds continue to be full caring for those recovering from illness following the cold weather. Our staff will be working incredibly hard over the Easter period to deliver an excellent service but our services are still in high demand so we need the public to help – please don’t come to A&E unless it is a genuine emergency.
“If you or someone close to you has norovirus please do not come into hospital unless it is absolutely critical. Norovirus cannot be treated and is easy to spread to other patients, their families and our staff.”
Dr Nick Roper, Clinical Director at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are still facing severe pressure following the cold weather.
“Our staff will be working incredibly hard over the Easter period to deliver an excellent service but we need the public to help – please don’t come to A&E unless it is a genuine emergency. And please do not visit our sites if someone you know has symptoms of diarrhoea and sickness.”
If you care for children, the child health app is free to download and offers a wealth of advice and support.
Dr Jonathan Slade added: “General practices will be offering services over the holiday period but you can help ease pressure at a busy time by choosing which service you use wisely.
“For many ailments such as coughs and colds, people don’t need to go to A&E or their local GP practice and are better off taking some paracetamol, drinking plenty of fluids and resting.”
See: www.nhs.uk/staywellpharmacy for your nearest NHS pharmacy opening hours.