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Do you know where to go for health advice over the bank holidays?

Do you know where to get health advice over the Christmas bank holidays? Find out how to get the right care, first time.

Health leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are reminding residents to get the right care, first time this Christmas in order to help relieve pressure on busy local A&E departments.

Minor injuries units, the out-of-hours GP service and NHS 111 are all available throughout the holiday period, offering advice and treatment for injuries and illnesses that need urgent attention but aren’t life-threatening.

Emergency pharmacists are also available for advice on minor ailments and other services such as emergency contraception.

Local GP and Clinical Commissioning Group clinical lead for urgent care Dr Kevin Haggerty said: “Most of us know that A&E should only be used for serious and life-threatening emergencies, but around one in four local A&E attendances are for conditions that could have been treated elsewhere.

“So this Christmas we’re urging people to consider whether they really need A&E and to use one of the many alternative services if it’s not an emergency.

“By choosing the most appropriate service you’ll be helping make sure busy A&E staff are able to focus on patients with the most serious needs.

“You’re also likely to get the care and treatment you need more quickly, as waiting times at services such as minor injuries units are often much shorter.”

Guidance on local urgent care services is available 24 hours a day from the NHS 111 helpline. Full details of services are also available on local NHS websites at www.bristolccg.nhs.uk, www.northsomersetccg.nhs.uk and www.southgloucestershireccg.nhs.uk

Where should you go for urgent help when it’s not an emergency?

Minor injuries units

Minor injuries units and urgent care centres offer a fast, convenient alternative to A&E for injuries that need attention urgently but aren’t life-threatening, such as sprains and strains, minor broken bones and burns and scalds.

Services are available on a walk-in basis and treatment can be significantly quicker than at A&E, especially during the winter period when hospitals are typically at their busiest.

Within the local area there are centres at Yate Westgate Centre and Clevedon Community Hospital. A minor injuries service is provided at South Bristol Community Hospital in Hengrove, and the NHS Walk-In Centre within Boots Broadmead also offers help with minor injuries as well as minor illnesses. All services are available throughout the Christmas and New Year period including bank holidays and weekends. Southmead Hospital's Emergency Department can also provide treatement for minor injuries in children and adults.

GP out-of-hours service

The local NHS also provides a 24-hour GP service for people who need to speak to a doctor urgently at times when their normal practice is closed.

The service is operated by GPs and nurses who offer telephone advice as well as face-to-face consultations or home visits for patients who are housebound.

It’s available from 6.30pm to 8am every weekday and 24 hours a day over weekends and bank holidays. Call 111 to access the service.

NHS 111

The NHS urgent care helpline is free to call and available 24 hours a day. It provides immediate medical advice at any time, as well as guidance on all local services ranging from minor injuries and urgent care centres to the GP out of hours service and emergency pharmacists and dentists. If emergency assistance is required, the call centre can dispatch an ambulance immediately.

Emergency pharmacists

Emergency pharmacists are available throughout the holiday dispensing medicines and providing advice and over-the-counter medication for minor ailments and illnesses that could be treated at home. Many also provide emergency contraception. Details of emergency pharmacists and their opening times are published on the local NHS websites at www.bristolccg.nhs.uk, www.northsomersetccg.nhs.uk and www.southgloucestershireccg.nhs.uk

Page last updated Wednesday 21 December 2016