GPs in north east London are reminding people that choosing the right place for medical help over the Christmas holidays can help them get the treatment they need faster.
More than 140,000 people attended A&E in north east London (NEL) last December and January and local hospital emergency departments are expected to be extremely busy again this year. Patients will often be seen quicker by visiting their local pharmacy or a GP, even during the holiday season.
Many parents are also understandably concerned about scarlet fever and invasive Group A Strep infections this winter. Latest UK Health Security Agency data shows that cases in north east London remain extremely low and information about the symptoms and what to do can be found on the NHS North East London website.
GP appointments will be available to book throughout the festive period to patients across NEL, including from 8am to 8pm on all bank holidays, such as Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
GP appointments are also available every weekday evening between 6.30pm and 10pm (8pm in Hackney and City of London), and between 8am and 8pm on weekends and bank holidays.
- If you live in the City of London, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest or Newham, you can book these appointments by calling your own GP practice as usual during working hours or by calling NHS 111 when it is closed.
- If you live in Barking and Dagenham or Havering you can get an evening or weekend appointment by calling 020 3770 1888 from 8am to 8pm every day. In Redbridge call 020 3649 4499, or by calling NHS 111 at any time, seven days a week.
- You can also get help with minor injuries and illnesses at the community urgent treatment centres (UTCs) at Barking Community Hospital and Harold Wood Polyclinic. These are open from 8am to 9pm, seven days a week. You can call NHS 111 to book an appointment or walk in and wait to be seen.
Patients are being advised to make sure they have enough medication to last them over the Christmas holidays. However, some community pharmacies will also be open on the festive bank holidays.
Most minor health conditions can be treated at home and local pharmacists can help. There are many over-the-counter medications which can be used to alleviate symptoms of winter viruses such as cold or flu without needing to use antibiotics.
You can find an open, late night pharmacy on the NHS website here.
Hospital admissions for flu are high this year so people are encouraged to take up their vaccine and get their children vaccinated when invited to do so by the NHS.
Dr Jagan John, a local GP and board member at NHS North East London, said: “We understand illnesses don’t stop for the holidays, and that sometimes you or a family member may need an appointment with a GP or nurse outside normal working hours. We also understand that many parents are worried about scarlet fever and Group A strep at the moment.
“This year we’re offering flexible appointments in the evenings, weekends and on bank holidays, including Christmas day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, so you can get the help you need when you need it. Our A&Es are extremely busy, often with long, uncomfortable waits, and you will often get quicker, more appropriate help from your GP or pharmacist or by calling 111.”
If you have an urgent but not life-threatening medical need, make sure you visit NHS 111 online first rather than going straight to A&E. NHS 111 online makes it easier for you to get the treatment you need in the right place at the right time.
If you cannot use the internet, call 111. NHS 111 can book you an appointment at an urgent treatment centre, emergency dental service, or with a GP and can even book you an appointment at A&E if necessary.
For more information visit https://northeastlondon.icb.nhs.uk/urgentcare
Knowing your best route to urgent care can help you find the treatment you need faster. For more information, and a video explaining how to access the right care at the right time, visit https://northeastlondon.icb.nhs.uk/urgentcare. There is also more information and advice on pharmacy, GP services and what to do if your child is unwell.