THE NHS in Somerset is asking people to make sure they are prepared this Easter and choose the right NHS service for their healthcare needs.

While health bosses appreciate people want to be able to enjoy their Easter break without worrying about how to access care if they need it, with health and care services still under pressure in Somerset, people are being asked to plan ahead to help reduce extra demand on NHS during this busy time.

The NHS in Somerset has put together some advice to help people understand what’s open and to choose the right health services.

While some pharmacies and healthcare settings are opening as usual over Easter, most GP practices will be closed from Friday (April 15) to Monday (April 18), with normal opening hours resuming on Tuesday.

To avoid adding further pressure on already busy health and care services, it is important people have enough of their repeat prescription to last over Easter and, if not, to order in good time to avoid running out.

For those who take regular medicines, people should plan ahead and make sure they have an adequate supply.

Even if you don’t take regular medication, it is worth checking you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet which covers minor ailments.

While it’s best to be prepared, many community pharmacies will be open to support people across Somerset.

As qualified healthcare professionals, pharmacists can help you and your family with a wide range of minor health conditions, offering clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as hay fever, coughs and colds, tummy trouble, skin infections and aches and pains.

For those who may be away from home over the holidays and need to speak to a GP, people are reminded to contact their own GP practice during opening hours in the first instance.

They will be able to offer an online consultation and advice. This advice also applies to visitors travelling to Somerset. All GP practices now offer remote consultations and can be contacted for advice.

Visiting or calling NHS 111 will help people get the right medical advice or treatment more quickly and, if needed, they will be able to arrange for individuals to be seen safely by the service that best meets their healthcare needs.

For non life-threatening injuries there are also a number of Minor Injury Units in Somerset which can help with a wide range of conditions including broken bones, throat and chest infections, eye infections, urinary infections, emergency contraception, sprains, and strains, as well as wounds and bites.

For life-threatening emergencies, including:

  • loss of consciousness;
  • acute confused state and fits that are not stopping;
  • chest pain;
  • breathing difficulties;
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped;
  • severe allergic reactions;
  • severe burns or scalds;
  • stroke;
  • major trauma such as a road traffic accident.

People should call 999 or go to their nearest A&E. If in doubt call NHS 111 for advice, they can assess what level of care you need and arrange for you to be seen at a local emergency department, if suitable.

If you do need to visit a healthcare setting over Easter, follow the health and safety guidance in place, including wearing a mask.

If you have symptoms of Covid-19, stay at home and avoid passing it on to other people, particularly those who are more vulnerable.

Health advice and information is also available on the NHS website or from your local GP practice website which links to a range of online services and, in most cases, you can order repeat prescriptions online.

For children’s health advice download the HANDi App, available for Android phones on Google Play or on the App store for iPhone and iPad