The NHS is urging people in Surrey to play their part in helping the NHS and social care teams manage what continues to be an incredibly busy and challenging time as we head into the festive period.
The health and care system is continuing to see a high demand for care across GP practices, community, social care, hospital, NHS 111 and ambulance services so they have issued important advice on how people can access help and support if they need, now and over Christmas and New Year– and how Surrey residents can help – by choosing the right service.
Professor Andy Rhodes, Joint Chief Medical Officer for Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care System, said:
Local health and care services remain incredibly busy and our frontline teams continue to do an incredible job as they see more patients than ever before. As a system, when we are very busy, we need to prioritise people who are critically ill and urgently need our help and, as we go into the festive period, we want to make sure people know how to access help if they need it, and how to choose the right service so we keep Emergency Departments for medical emergencies and people with life-threatening conditions.
The plea from NHS Surrey Heartlands is ‘Help us, help you’ by choosing the right service:
- Pharmacists are experts in medicine and can give clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches, pains and prescription queries. Some pharmacies will be open over the festive period – go to the NHS England website for pharmacy opening times.
- NHS 111 online – If you, or your family, need urgent (same day) health advice but it’s not an emergency, NHS 111 online can provide advice and link you in with local services – including GP services, walk-in centres and other local services. Go to NHS 111 online and get directed to the care you need (this service is for adults and children age 5 years and above).
- Call NHS 111 – You can also call 111, available 24 hours a day – but lines are extremely busy as teams work hard to answer high volumes of calls so your call will be placed in a queue and we’ll answer as quickly as we can.
- GP practices – On the bank holidays over the festive period some practices will be offering pre-booked appointments and there will also be GP appointments available through NHS 111. People can also visit their practice website for a range of online services (including repeat prescription requests, other online requests and to book a routine appointment) and if people urgently need repeat prescriptions they have been encouraged to plan ahead and collect these early this week, before we go into the festive period.
- The Emergency Department (also known as A&E) and 999 services are only for medical emergencies and life-threatening conditions. Please help by using these services appropriately.
If you’re not sure where to go, or which service to choose, ask your pharmacist for advice or see NHS 111 online and they can put you in touch with the service you need, including arranging out of hours GP appointments and referring you to a walk-in centre or Emergency Department if that’s where you need to be.
We know Covid-19 and flu are circulating and we are seeing an increase of both in our hospitals – so we would encourage anyone who is eligible to get their autumn vaccination boosters, or any outstanding doses, to help protect themselves and their families.
Covid-19 vaccination services will continue to run over the festive period – for details of local services and to book an appointment please visit the national booking system or call 119. Walk-in clinic details are available online.