The NHS – facing the biggest challenge in the organisation’s history – is urging Londoners to follow government guidance on staying safe over New Year’s bank holiday weekend and remember that 999 and A&E are for emergencies only.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS is very busy, but urgent care is available – GPs are offering more appointments, including evenings and weekends, for people with urgent health needs.
Most appointments will be by telephone or through video consultation, but face to face appointments are still offered if necessary.
GP practices will let their patients know how to access urgent medical help between 8am and 8pm, with contact information also available on practice websites. People can also visit 111online or call 111 at any time, where they will be asked some questions about symptoms on the website, or by speaking to a fully trained adviser on the phone.
999 is for emergencies and should only be called if the situation is life-threatening.
“The NHS, especially our hospitals and the ambulance service, are very busy at the moment and will continue to be for the coming weeks,” said Dr Nicola Jones, a member of the NHS South West London Clinical Commissioning Group.
“Our teams are working incredibly hard to provide Londoners with the best possible care should they become unwell. We have extra GP services and more appointments on evenings and weekends. If you have a health concern over the bank holiday weekend, contact your GP practice or use their website to find out what your local arrangements are, or use the NHS 111 online service for health advice.
“We are also urging people to support the NHS and remember that 999 is for emergencies and should only be called if the situation is life-threatening, such as chest pain, blackouts, a serious injury, or if you think you’re having a stroke.
“The coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective and will offer people a vital defence against the virus, but we can’t be complacent, it is still so important that people continue to wash their hands, wear a mask when appropriate and keep their distance.”
If you or people you live with do not have coronavirus symptoms and you think you need advice from a GP:
- GP services are available this bank holiday weekend
- Contact your practice online or by phone to be assessed
- If your practice is not open but an appointment is necessary, you will be advised of the next steps. Your appointment may be at another nearby service
If you need urgent health care
If it is serious or a life-threatening emergency, then call 999.
If you are told to go to hospital, then you must go. The NHS will help you get the care you need.
If you need advice from a pharmacist that is not related to coronavirus
For minor medical problems, not related to coronavirus, many local pharmacies will be open and are able to help this weekend – although their opening times may be different.
A number of pharmacies in London will be open for longer hours – search for a pharmacy at www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-pharmacy
If you think you need urgent dental treatment
Call your dentist.
If you cannot contact your dentist, or you do not have one, use the NHS 111 online service or call if you cannot get online.
If an appointment is necessary, this will be arranged at an urgent dental care centre.
If you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms
Stay at home and visit nhs.uk/coronavirus for health advice and guidance on isolation.
Do not go to your GP practice, pharmacy or A&E.
If your symptoms worsen, or you feel that you cannot manage at home, please visit the NHS111 online coronavirus service. Call 111 if you cannot get online or you’ve been told to do so.
Remember that 999 is for emergencies.
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