Top doctor urges Londoners to use NHS services wisely
The NHS in London will be extremely busy this Bank Holiday weekend, but help is available for those who need urgent care.
With coronavirus cases rising in the capital, Londoners are being asked only to use 999 and A&E for serious and life-threatening emergencies, with more GP appointments – including evenings and weekends – now available for people with other health needs.
Most consultations will be by telephone or through video call, with face-to-face appointments offered if necessary. Patients who are assessed to have urgent health needs will be able to get same-day care from a GP or practice nurse thanks to an increase in appointment availability during this busy period.
Dr Vin Diwakar, Medical Director for the NHS in London said:
“This New Year, more than ever, it’s really important that 999 and A&E are reserved for people with serious or life-threatening conditions.
“The NHS is under enormous pressure from high Covid infection rates and winter illnesses, but staff are going the extra mile to help Londoners get the care they need – including providing more GP appointments for those with urgent health issues, including during evenings and weekends.
“We also need Londoners to follow the guidance on reducing the spread of coronavirus. This means staying at home whenever possible, and remembering Hands, Face and Space.”
For urgent care from a GP this Bank Holiday, patients should ring their own GP practice or check its website, where information will be provided on how to get help.
Patients can also contact NHS 111 online or by phone, day or night, for other urgent health advice – including concerns about coronavirus symptoms. 111 is a free service, staffed by trained advisers who can direct patients to the right care – whether that’s with a GP; a pre-booked appointment in A&E; or advice on how to manage minor conditions at home.
If you need medical help this weekend, please follow our advice:
If you or someone you live with has any of the main coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature, a new continuous cough, a loss or change in taste/smell):
- Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible. Call freephone number 119 or book at nhs.uk/coronavirus
- Stay at home and follow the guidance on isolation at nhs.uk/coronavirus
- If your symptoms worsen, or you feel that you can’t manage at home, visit 111.nhs.uk/covid-19 or call 111 if you don’t have online access.
If you don’t have coronavirus symptoms and need urgent advice from a GP:
- GP services are available. Contact your own GP practice, who will advise you on how to get help either through local services or through 111.
- If an appointment or online/telephone consultation is necessary, you’ll be advised of the next steps.
- Remember that A&E and 999 are for emergencies.
If you need advice or medication from a pharmacist:
- For minor medical problems, many local pharmacies will be open and are able to help this weekend – although their opening times may be different.
- Check the opening times for pharmacies in your borough of London here: Pharmacy opening times in London this Bank Holiday
- If you or a member of your household or support bubble have coronavirus symptoms, please do not visit a pharmacy.