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GP surgeries extend their hours to ease pressure on A&E departments

stethoscopeA range of GP surgeries across Lichfield and Burntwood are offering extended opening to ease the current pressure on Accident and Emergency departments.

Patients are advised to visit the South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) website to find out if their GP is open for additional hours over the next couple of weeks, particularly during the weekends and evenings or to check with their GP Practice directly.

John Wicks, Director of Commissioning and Strategy said:

“The vast majority of our GPs have been offering extended opening hours for some time, but we have stepped up temporarily, our services as part of a package of alternative healthcare services that are available to patients to treat illnesses and minor injuries.  This will help to keep A&E departments, who are currently experiencing an extremely busy period due to a variety of factors including the severe weather conditions, Norovirus, seasonal, Swine Flu and respiratory problems, free to deal with real emergency cases.

“Local residents are also reminded that their pharmacies can provide a whole range of health services including: advice; support and guidance, and are often open late into the evening and at the weekend, particular the ones based in supermarkets.

“Self care is also extremely important – people should consider and prepare for illnesses that they can treat themselves at home.  We urge everyone to make sure they have cold and flu medications in the house, as well as other basic first aid supplies such as painkillers, plasters, bandages and anti-diarrhoea medication.  When stocking up with flu remedies, check first with your GP or pharmacist if you are on other medication to make sure the medicines are right for you.”

Mr Wicks added:

“A third of the people who are visiting A&E could have received their treatment more appropriately elsewhere, for example in a Minor Injuries Unit, by calling NHS Direct, going to their GP or their pharmacist.  This would then leave A&E to concentrate on the people who are most in need of immediate treatment.”

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