Help our NHS by planning for a safe and healthy October half term

Self-care: Having a few basic items in your bathroom medicine cabinet can save you time and effort should you become ill. Items like paracetamol, a bandage, sticking plasters, and antiseptic cream or indigestion tablets. If troublesome symptoms persist or worsen see your GP.

Repeat medication: If you or someone you care for requires repeat medication, make sure you have ordered and collected any prescriptions to ensure you have medicine during the half-term. Contact your GP practice as soon as possible to organise prescriptions.

Visit your local pharmacist: You can speak to your pharmacist for confidential expert advice and over-the-counter treatments for a wide range of common illnesses and complaints, such as stomach upsets, allergies, minor cuts, nappy rash, skin conditions and coughs and colds.

They can also arrange an urgent prescription for a supply of any prescribed medicines that run out, so you don’t have to use the out of hours’ service or the emergency department.

This service is also available for anyone who’s on holiday or visiting family. You can get details of which pharmacies are open during the bank holiday weekends by visiting kernowccg.nhs.uk/get-info/choose-well or checking the NHS England website.

NHS 111: If you urgently need to see a GP when your surgery is closed and it cannot wait until it re-opens, call NHS 111. The NHS 111 service can put you in contact with the GP out-of-hours service, which can arrange for you to see a healthcare professional in the evening and at the weekend.

If you need help fast but your health problem isn’t life threatening, the 111 service can help. It’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is free to call from landlines and mobile phones. It includes a full range of local health services, including doctors, community nurses, emergency dental care and late opening chemists. NHS 111 is also online at 111.nhs.uk

Minor injury unit: If your injury is not serious you can get help from a minor injuries unit (MIU) rather than go to the emergency department. By doing so you allow emergency department staff to concentrate on people with serious and life-threatening conditions and save yourself a potentially long wait. You will be seen by an experienced nurse, without an appointment. X-ray is available at some locations. Access waiting times by visiting kernowccg.nhs.uk/get-info/choose-well

Minor injury units are based at:

  • Bodmin Community Hospital
  • Camborne Redruth Community Hospital
  • Falmouth Community Hospital
  • Launceston Community Hospital
  • Liskeard Community Hospital
  • Newquay Community Hospital
  • St Austell Community Hospital
  • St Mary’s Community Hospital
  • Stratton Community Hospital, Bude

Urgent treatment centre: The urgent treatment centres at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance, and Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro is open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year for anyone needing urgent medical care for injuries and conditions such as fractures, deep cuts, non-life threatening head injuries and minor falls. You will be seen by a doctor from 9am to 10pm and an experienced nurse overnight. X-ray is available from 8am to 11pm.

Emergency department or 999: Only use the emergency department or the 999 ambulance service for life threatening and emergency conditions such as heart attack, stroke, if someone is unconscious, has severe loss of blood, or breathing difficulties. If a family member is experiencing chest pain or has become unconscious telephone 999 immediately.

Online waiting time service: If you do need to visit the emergency department, a minor injury unit or urgent care centre, you can see how long you may have to wait by using the online waiting time service, which shows the longest wait, how many people are waiting to be seen and how many people are in the department. It also includes opening times and x-ray availability. Visit kernowccg.nhs.uk/get-info/choose-well

Family GP and NHS Kernow Govenring Body member Dr John Garman said: “We’re gearing up for the October half-term and are once again appealing to anyone who needs help to use the right service and keep the emergency department free for urgent and life-threatening care only.

"The emergency department is not the right place to treat sporting sprains and strains, minor fractures, broken bones, upset stomachs, insect bites and cuts. Please visit a minor injury unit or our urgent treatment centres in Penzance or Truro for treatment.

“Holidays and weekends are a time to relax and have fun but if you or a family member falls ill or has an accident, help yourself and the NHS by getting the right treatment for your level of illness or injury.

“If you have a minor illness or ailment then visit your local pharmacist. They can help with expert advice and over-the-counter remedies. If you need urgent medical advice but it is not a life threatening emergency, call NHS 111. Their call handlers can tell you anything from where to find an emergency dentist to getting you and out-of-hour’s doctor.”

James Cookson, Pharmaceutical Advisor for NHS Kernow said: “Local pharmacies can provide a lot of help especially during the holiday season.

“If you’re suffering from a cough or cold, visit your local pharmacist, they can help you choose the right medicine. Also, make sure you’ve had your flu jab if you are in one of the at-risk groups, have a long term condition, care for someone, or are pregnant.

“They can also provide advice and treatment for a range of minor ailments, such as nappy rash, sticky eyes, water infections or bites and rashes. They can also arrange an emergency supply of medication if you have forgotten to renew your prescription, or bring your medication on holiday.”

Visit kernowccg.nhs.uk/choosewell for details of all services, opening and waiting times, and contact details.