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Public urged to think ‘pharmacy or GP first’ this Christmas and New Year

Friday, 23 December, 2016
Public urged to think ‘pharmacy or GP first’ this Christmas and New Year
People in North Tyneside and Northumberland who need help from the NHS this Christmas and New Year are being reminded that pharmacies and GP services are available throughout the festive break.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is raising awareness among residents that access to pharmacies and GPs is available every day over the festive period, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and the bank holidays.
Although some GP practices are closed over the Christmas and New Year break, the local NHS has been working hard to ensure people will still be able to access a GP appointment or pharmacist should they need one.  The public should simply call the free NHS 111 number, which is available 24/7, to find out where to go and book a slot, or can walk-in at the services detailed below.
In North Tyneside, GP appointments are available 9am to 1pm at Battle Hill Health Centre, Priory Medical Centre in North Shields and Wideopen Medical Centre as follows with walk-in appointments available until noon:
Saturday 24 December (Christmas Eve)
Sunday 25 December (Christmas Day)
Monday 26 December (Boxing Day)
Tuesday 27 December (Bank Holiday)
Saturday 31 December (New Year’s Eve)
Sunday 1 January (New Year’s Day)
Monday 2 January (Bank Holiday)
Pharmacies across the area are also open every day of the holidays, visit for local opening times.  After the festivities, GP practices reopen on Wednesday 28 December and again on Tuesday 3 January 2017.
If you have an urgent, not non-life threatening condition, urgent care centres at North Tyneside, Wansbeck and Hexham general hospitals are open 8am to midnight every day as normal throughout Christmas and New Year.
Dr Chris Biggin, clinical director of emergency care at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “It’s great news that this year, for the first time, GP appointments are available every day over the festive holidays. Most health issues the majority of people will experience at this time of year can be dealt with by looking after themselves well at home or seeing their pharmacist or GP.
“If people need to see a GP urgently, they should simply ring the free NHS 111 number, which is available 24/7, to find out where to go and which GP services are open.
“This is a really busy time for the NHS, and particularly The Northumbria hospital, and we would urge people to heed this advice and make use of the services available in order to keep emergency care free for those who need it most.” 
Jonathan Slade, medical director for NHS England Cumbria and the North East, said: “The main message we want to get across is that a number of GPs and pharmacists across the region are open for business over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
“We’d like to reassure people that if they call 111, they will be allocated an appointment should they need one.  This is a particularly important message for older people, people with long-term health conditions and parents. 
“Pharmacists can provide instant, confidential advice and treatment for minor illnesses, without the need to make an appointment.  
“Our A&E departments get extremely busy during this time and we want to ensure that patients who really need emergency care receive the quickest possible treatment they need, and that people who can be cared for elsewhere are not waiting in accident and emergency departments.”
People are also being urged to stock up on over-the-counter medicines to treat a range of common winter ailments effectively at home without the need for NHS help.
NHS 111 is open 24/7 throughout the holidays if people need medical help fast, or are not sure which service to access.