Doctors in Devon are providing essential advice to people across the county on how to choose the right service for them if they feel unwell this Spring Bank Holiday weekend.
The long weekend traditionally brings extra tourists to our beautiful county, putting extra pressure on health services.
Devon’s NHS leaders are asking people to do what they can to prevent themselves becoming unwell and make sensible to decisions when it comes to choosing the right NHS service if they need help.
Dr Shelagh McCormick, a Devon GP, said: “The NHS in Devon is very busy at the moment and demand is forecast to increase over the bank holiday weekend so we are asking people to help us help them by choosing the right service for their needs.”
The #HelpUsHelpYou advice is:
- Self care is the best choice to treat minor illnesses and injuries like a coughs, colds, grazes, small cuts or a sore throat. They can be treated at home with over-the-counter medicines and plenty of rest.
- Pharmacists advise and treat illnesses like hay fever, diarrhoea, earache, painful cough, sticky eye, teething and rashes – and by visiting your pharmacy you can avoid an unnecessary trip to your GP or A&E and save time. Find your nearest pharmacy here: https://beta.nhs.uk/find-a-pharmacy
- Minor Injury Units (MIU), walk-in centres (WIC) and urgent treatment centres (UTC) provide non-urgent services for things like cuts, sprains, strain, bruises, itchy rashes, stings and minor burns. You will be seen by an experienced nurse, without an appointment. There are facilities in Bideford, Dawlish, Devonport, Exeter (Sidwell Street WIC) Exmouth, Kingsbridge, Ilfracombe, Honiton, Launceston, Lynton Resource Centre, Newton Abbot, Tavistock, Tiverton and Totnes – always check for local opening hours.
- NHS website – www.nhs.uk – is always available for health advice and guidance.
- NHS 111 click on 111.nhs.uk (for people aged over five only) or call 111 if you’re feeling unwell, unsure or if you need health advice and guidance in non-life-threatening emergencies – available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Mental health crisis cafés, also known as The Moorings @ Devon, offer out-of-hours mental health support to anyone aged 16+ in Devon, from locations in Barnstaple, Exeter, and Torquay. Click www.mhm.org.uk/the- moorings-devon for contact details and opening hours.
- A&E/999 are best used in an emergency for serious or life threatening conditions like severe bleeding, breathing difficulties, severe chest pain and loss of consciousness. A&E departments are not an alternative to a GP appointment.
Dr McCormick added: “By using self-care where appropriate, people in Devon are helping to free up the health system, which in turn helps patients who are in most need to get the medical attention they need.”
Tom Kallis, a community pharmacist in Devon, added: “Pharmacies can provide a fast route to medication for minor ailments so if you’re not sure whether you need to talk to a doctor, check with your pharmacy first.
“Pharmacies are 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.”
And as the South West gears up for summer, people who love the outdoors are being urged to cover up against harmful UV rays.
Health experts this week launched their skin cancer campaign “Cover Up, Mate”, warning that exposure to greater levels of UV can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer.
Official NHS advice on staying safe in the sun is to spend time in the shade if you can, make sure you never burn, cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses, take extra care with children and use at least factor 15 sunscreen.
As pollen levels start to pick up, hay fever sufferers are also being reminded to buy hay fever medicines from their local pharmacy where community pharmacists can offer advice on treatment and avoiding triggers. For more details, click here: www.nhs.uk/conditions/hay-fever