Health officials issue New Year reminder

North Tyneside General Hospital at North Shields.

North Tyneside General Hospital at North Shields.

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Residents are being urged to use the right health services over the New Year period.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is encouraging residents to keep a well-stocked medicines cabinet at home in order to treat a large range of winter ailments and to use their local pharmacy.

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets without needing to see your GP or use other NHS services.

Northumbria Healthcare is also reminding residents to order any necessary repeat prescriptions from their GP and to plan ahead as most GP practices will be closed from New Year’s Day until Monday, January 4, 2016.

The reminder is part of the trust’s public awareness campaign, which launched in early December and continues over the festive season, aimed to ensure people understand where they should go for help and support from their local NHS this winter.

An urgent care centre at North Tyneside General Hospital is open 24/7 throughout the festive period and should be used for urgent problems which are not life threatening. The free NHS 111 service is also available 24/7 to guide people to the most appropriate service.

Dr Jane Weatherstone, associate medical director primary and community care at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The festive season is a time for enjoying yourself with family and friends and the last thing anyone wants is to fall ill, however, we can all be well prepared.

“Simply having a well-stocked medicines cabinet at home will help you treat lots of common winter ailments and it’s also worth remembering that there are pharmacies open every day throughout the festive season if you need over-the-counter medicines or advice.

“If you need further help, your GP is open as normal, apart from New Year’s Day, and NHS 111 is available 24/7 if you need urgent advice or are not sure where to go for the severity of your symptoms.

“Our urgent care centres at Wansbeck, Hexham and North Tyneside will be open 24/7 throughout the festive period and I would remind people to use these services for urgent problems which are not life threatening. You will be seen much more quickly as you will not have to wait behind patients who are seriously ill.”

The campaign is also reminding people that the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington is for serious or life threatening emergencies only – most of which arrive by emergency blue light ambulance or via emergency GP admission.

The following pharmacies are open on New Year’s Day:

• Asda, Whitley Road, Benton, NE12 9SJ – 11am-1pm and 2-4pm

• Boots, Silverlink Retail Park, Wallsend, NE28 9ND – 11am-5pm

• Lloyds Pharmacy, Battle Hill Walk-In Centre, Belmont Close, Wallsend, NE28 9DX – 10am-4pm

• Sainsburys, Newsteads Drive, Whitley Bay, NE25 9EX – 10am-5pm