Know where to go for health care advice over the holidays?

With the April and May bank holiday weekends fast approaching, the NHS wants to make sure people know how and where to get health care and treatment if they need it.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director of public health at NHS South East Coast, explained, “We want to make sure people know where to go to get the best and most appropriate health care treatment and advice and where to get medicines over the holidays.

There are a wide range of health care services across the region in Sussex, Kent and Surrey open over the holidays:

• For absolutely any health questions, around the clock, and to find your local NHS services call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

• If you need to see a doctor, make an appointment with your GP, or if you need advice about remedies for common illnesses - ask your pharmacist.

• There will be pharmacists open over the holidays – call NHS Direct 0845 46 47 or visit www.nhs.uk to find your nearest open pharmacy.

• If you need help when your surgery is closed, you should either call your surgery where you will hear an answer phone message telling you how to contact a doctor out-of-hours, or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 to find out where your nearest NHS Walk-in Centre is. There are walk-in centres at Eastbourne railway station and Station Plaza Health Centre, Hastings, open 8am-8pm every day.

• If you have injuries that need medical attention but which are not life threatening - you can go to your nearest minor injuries unit (MIU) The MIUs at Lewes Victoria, Uckfield Community and Crowborough War Memorial hospitals open 8am-8pm every day.

• If you have a dental emergency, contact the dental helpline on 0300 1000 899 between 8.30am to 5pm or the East Sussex emergency dental service which runs clinics at Hailsham, Hastings and Lewes during the evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Hailsham – 01323 449170; Hastings – 01424 850792; and Lewes - 01273 486444.

• Emergency Departments (A&E) are just that, for life threatening injuries or illnesses.

Dr Doyle added, “We hope everyone enjoys themselves over the holidays but we urge people to take care too. Plan ahead if you have a medical condition that needs to be managed and there are ways to ensure you have a safe and happy holiday.

“People who need regular medicines and could run short over the holidays should order repeat prescriptions from their GP.

“If you are planning to celebrate with an alcoholic tipple or two, know your limits and drink sensibly. Over the past couple of weekends we have seen a significant increase in alcohol related emergencies across the region.

By choosing the most appropriate health service you will receive the right treatment fast, leaving emergency services to those who need them most. For all medical advice and to find your nearest NHS services call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk