NHS Kernow is urging residents to make sure they are prepared for any potential health conditions this Christmas.
Doctors are advising people to stock up on over-the-counter remedies such as paracetamol for aches or pains, rehydration powders for stomach upsets and antiseptic for cuts, to help avoid unnecessary trips to find a pharmacy or a minor injuries unit for an illness or ailment.
Anyone who takes regular medication is advised to make sure they have enough to see them through the holiday.
Pharmacists can prescribe an emergency supply of medication if any visiting friends or relatives forget to renew or bring with them a supply of their regular medication.
Many NHS services such as doctors, dentists and pharmacies will be closed or offering reduced hours during Christmas and New Year. You can get details of GP and pharmacy opening times online at NHS Kernow.
NHS England has also published pharmacy opening times.
Dr John Garman, a family GP in Helston who has recently joined NHS Kernow Governing Body, said: “We want everyone to have a happy and healthy Christmas holiday and as always use the NHS wisely.
“Traditionally at this time of year too many people wrongly visit the emergency department when they could get quicker, more appropriate treatment elsewhere. We need to keep the emergency department free for people who need urgent medical attention for serious illness or injury and potentially life-saving care.
“GP surgeries will be open as normal on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, from 8am to 6.30pm, unless otherwise specified. Please check with your surgery. Surgeries will be closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and open as normal on Thursday 27, and Friday 28 December and Wednesday 2 January. You can get 24-hour non-urgent health advice from NHS 111 and NHS 111 Online when your GP surgery is closed.
“Your pharmacist can help treat coughs, colds, upset stomachs, flu and minor ailments such as nappy rash, conjunctivitis, oral thrush and cystitis. Most pharmacies will be open during the holiday.
“Doctors and nurses at our minor injury units and the West Cornwall Hospital urgent care centre will also be working during the holiday and can treat a range of minor illnesses and injuries, which have occurred during the previous 14 days. You will be seen by an experienced nurse, without an appointment. X-ray is available at some locations.”
You can find your nearest centre by visiting kernowccg.nhs.uk/choosewell
There is also a minor injury unit (MIU) at the Stennack Surgery in St Ives (TR26 1RU) which is open Christmas Eve 8am to 8pm. The minor injury unit will be closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and re-open at 8am on Thursday, 27, and Friday 28 December. New Year's Eve the MIU will be open from 8am through to 4am (or as advised by the emergency services) on New Year's Day (the remainder of the day the MIU will be closed). Call 01736 793333 for more details.
Dr Garman added: “By choosing the right service, people will make sure the emergency department is available for those who urgently need it. If you do need to visit the emergency department, a minor injury unit or urgent treatment centre at West Cornwall Hospital during the holiday you can see how long you may have to wait by using the NHS Quicker app. The app also provides information regarding pharmacy opening times and other local services.
“If you are worried about your mental health, or that of someone you know, contact your GP. If your practice is closed, ring NHS 111.”
There’s also lots of other ways you can access health help and advice including access to GP services anytime, anywhere, thanks to a simple online form, called eConsult, that is being tested out in 18 practices across the county. The service can be used to health symptoms and find out information and advice about a condition and services that are available locally. They can also complete an online form to describe their needs and request a response from their practice. This could be a request for an appointment or for an administrative task, a test result or some health advice. Check your GP surgery website for more details.
People can also find self-help advice and information at www.nhs.uk.
For confidential emotional support and guidance, call one of these recognised helplines:
the Samaritans on 116 123, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Valued Lives crisis service on 01209 901438, open from 5pm.
Sane helpline on 0300 304 7000, available seven days a week from 6pm to 11pm.
Mental Health Matters – out-of-hours telephone support, 5pm to 9am weekdays and 24 hour a day at weekend and bank holiday for people aged 16 and over who are already receiving mental health services in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Call free on 0800 001 4330.
In West Cornwall minor injury units are based at:
Camborne Redruth Community Hospital
Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro
St Michael’s Hospital, Hayle
West Cornwall Hospital, Penzance