PATIENTS have been reminded to stock up on repeat prescriptions to keep them going through the Christmas holidays.
The advice has been issued by NHS North East in a message for people to plan ahead to help ease the pressure on health services and avoid unnecessary problems when GP surgeries are closed.
It is particularly important for people with long-term health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, lung and heart disease, to make sure they have the medication they need to see them through the festive period.
And if they do run out, they are advised to contact the out-of-hours GP service, rather than visit hospital A&E departments.
People are also being encouraged to buy in over-the-counter medicines for common illnesses, and if they do need to access health services, they should choose the most appropriate.
Morpeth GP Alistair Blair, who is Chairman of the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “By taking simple steps — collecting repeat prescriptions well ahead of Christmas and stocking up on medicines to treat common illnesses — we can ensure we’re using our NHS services responsibly, leaving out-of-hours and emergency services open for those who experience a serious medical emergency.
“As the NHS Constitution says, the NHS belongs to all of us and it’s in all our interests to use it responsibly. With just a little bit of planning we can make sure we don’t put any additional pressure on NHS services in the run up to the Christmas break.”
GP practices will be closed on December 26 and 27, as well as January 2, but patients should check with their own practice for opening times.
Out-of-hours services will be provided by Northern Doctors Urgent Care, and pharmacies, who can advise on minor ailments, may be open for longer hours than surgeries.
For more information contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or visit www.nhs.uk