Fears for Christmas health services in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley
PUBLISHED: 16:09 18 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:14 18 December 2014
Unless it's urgent stay away say health chiefs
DOCTORS are asking those who are ill but not in need of urgent medical attention to stay away from emergency departments and out-of-hours surgeries.
Health bosses are fearful of the strain that could be put on services in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley over the Christmas period.
The call has come from GP Dr Bhaskar Bora, principal clinical lead at NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which plans and pays for the area’s health services.
Dr Bora said: “The weekend just before Christmas, and in between Christmas and New Year, are traditionally very busy times for the NHS when many patients use out-of-hours GP services and visit hospital A&E departments.
“We ask that patients who do not need urgent treatment leave these services free for those who really do.”
He points out GP practices will be open as usual from 8am to 6.30pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (22, 23 and 24 December) and reopen again the following week, except for New Year’s Day (Thursday 1 January).
Dr Bora added: “GPs will always try to fit you in, if you need to be seen the same day. Patients can also help themselves by re-ordering important repeat prescriptions now which will run out during the festive season.”
The GP-led White Horse walk-in centre and the minor injury unit at Gravesham Community Hospital will be open every day, including Christmas Day.
Patients can check opening times, find out which chemist is on duty or seek advice for common symptoms by using the NHS Health Help Now app for smart phones – now available from the App Store and Google Play - or for computers from www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net
Dr Bora said: “Anyone who needs medical advice fast when it is not a 999 emergency, and their GP’s surgery is closed, should call NHS 111.”
Patients can help ease pressure on GPs and A&E by treating minor illnesses and simple injuries at home themselves.
Dr Bora advised: “While you are getting ready for Christmas, make sure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home which should include paracetamol, cold remedies, antiseptic wipes, plasters, tweezers and a thermometer.”