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Vicky Angear Weston Mercury Published: August 25, 2021   

Doctors in North Somerset are urging people to plan ahead for any healthcare needs over the bank holiday weekend.

Many GP surgeries and pharmacies will be closed on Monday and doctors are encouraging people to ensure they have enough medication to last the long weekend.

Many very minor ailments can be treated with over-the-counter medicines, and people are being advised to check they have basic supplies such as paracetamol, antihistamine and a first aid kit.

Emergency pharmacists are available throughout the weekend providing over-the-counter medication and advice if needed. Details can be found on the NHS website.

Dr Jonathan Hayes, local GP and clinical chair of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There are plenty of health services across the area dependent on your need. When people don’t know where to go, they tend to default to going to A&E and this is rarely the best option.

“If your need is not a life-threatening emergency, you could be waiting for very long periods or be sent to another service, so if you’re not sure what service you need, I would always recommend ringing 111 first, so that they can help ensure you get the treatment you need in the right place, first time, to save frustration and avoid delays.

“Also, make sure you order prescriptions from your GP before they are closed for the bank holiday so you have medications you need.”

For anything more serious, that doesn’t require a 999 response, people are urged to contact NHS 111 by phone or online first.

The service has been expanded during the pandemic and is now the best way to access urgent care services.

The trained call handlers can direct callers to the right service, including a number of hospital specialities.

If you do need to go to hospital or to an urgent treatment centre, the system in place will notify the service so you are expected. If the service is busy, you will be given a timeslot to arrive to avoid long waiting times.