NHS under pressure: use services wisely
31 December 2017
The NHS across Kent and Medway is currently experiencing significant pressure, with unprecedented levels of demand for A&E, 111 and out-of-hours services in some areas.
GPs from local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in north Kent, which are responsible for planning and buying local NHS services, are urging people to use NHS services wisely over this bank holiday weekend to ensure people who really need urgent care are able to get it.
Pharmacies, some GPs, walk in centres and minor injury units are open and should be the first port of call unless your illness or injury is an emergency or life threatening.
A spokesperson for Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley, Medway, and Swale clinical commissioning groups said: “Many people are unwell at the moment with colds, chest infections, flu and winter vomiting. Sometimes these illnesses can become life threatening, but in most cases they are treatable at home with over the counter remedies.
“Many people are still using A&E inappropriately and we urge everyone to consider self-care where appropriate and ensure they are stocked up on over the counter remedies such as painkillers and medicines for coughs, colds and flu, and vomiting and diarrhoea.
“If people are concerned about their health and need medical advice, we’re asking them to choose wisely. We’ve put extra GP appointments in place for this weekend and New Year’s Day, and Walk in Centres and Minor Injury Units are also open. Some pharmacists are also open and trained to give medical advice for minor ailments.”
The spokesperson added: “If you’re really unwell, you should seek help. But think about where to go for that help.”
The clinical commissioning groups are also urging New Year revellers to drink responsibly to avoid putting unnecessary demand on NHS services.
The spokesperson said: “Of course people should have a good time if they are celebrating New Year tonight, but we’d ask people to think about how much they drink, and stay well over New Year. Please don’t overwhelm the NHS system with an emergency which could have been avoided.”
To find out what services are open in your area, go to www.nhs.uk or use the Health Help Now website and app which will locate your nearest open pharmacy or other NHS service.
Health Help Now can be found at www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net
NHS services available this New Year
Pharmacies can offer advice from a trained medical professional and medication for minor ailments.
On New Year’s Day (Monday 1 January) the following pharmacies are open in Swale:
Asda Store Pharmacy – open 10am-6pm
Mill Way, Sittingbourne ME10 2PD
Tel: 01795 412110
Boots the Chemist – open 10am – 4pm
122 High Street, Sittingbourne ME10 4PL
Tel: 01795 412110
GP-led walk-in centres
GP-led walk-in centres can often see you without an appointment. Walk-in centres also have health professionals that will see you without an appointment if you have an urgent concern.
Open from 8am-8pm and you don’t need an appointment to see a GP or nurse:
- Medway GP Walk-in Centre, Ground floor, Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre, Balmoral Gardens, Gillingham, ME7 4PN, Phone: 01634 331177. Open 365 days of the year
- Sheppey NHS GP Walk-in Centre, Sheppey Community Hospital, Plover Road, Minster-On-Sea, Sheerness, ME12 3LT Phone: 01795 879199. Open 365 days of the year
Minor Injuries Unit
Trained nurses at minor injuries units (MIUs) can assess and treat cuts, sprains, minor burns, minor dislocations of the fingers and toes, minor eye injuries and remove foreign bodies from, for example, ears and noses. MIUs cannot treat babies under one year old. MIUs are open every day of the year.
- Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital: Bell Road, Sittingbourne, ME10 4DT. Phone: 01795 418300. Open 9am to 9pm, every day of the year
- Sheppey Community Hospital: Plover Road, Minster, ME12 3LT. Phone: 01795 879100. Open 9am to 9pm, every day of the year.
For emergency dental care, contact your own dentist first. At evenings, weekends and bank holidays (8.30am to 1.25pm) you can call DentaLine on 01634 890300.
Mental health support
Free confidential emotional advice and guidance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from the Mental Health Matters helpline on 0800 107 0160. The Samaritans are also there to listen at any time of day or night and can be reached by dialling 116 123.
If you don’t have internet access or a smartphone, and need urgent health help, NHS 111 can give you free health advice, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.