30 Mar 2021

The local NHS expects to see an increase in pressures on the health system from this week as lockdown rules are eased and the Easter bank holidays close some services and people are reminded to use 111 first.

As GP surgeries and some pharmacies will be closed for the bank holiday people need to know where to go if they do become unwell – including not going to A&E unless it is a real emergency.

With lockdown restrictions starting to ease and schools finishing for the Easter break it is an ideal opportunity for families to be out enjoying the spring weather with people they may not have seen for some time. This brings with it some risk of injuries if socialising becomes more boisterous along with the usual flare up of illnesses.

If you do think you might need A&E service over the holiday period, remember to call NHS 111 first or go online at www.111.nhs.uk   NHS 111 staff can give you advice and information and book you a timed appointment in the most appropriate service – this may be at A&E, the Urgent Treatment Centre or a primary care service.

Dr Michael Ejuoneatse, local GP and Medical Director for St Helens CCG, said: “There are a range of health services across St Helens dependent on your need.  However, when people don’t know where to go, they tend to default to going to A&E and this is rarely the best option. If you are not a life-threatening emergency, you could be waiting for very long periods or be sent to another service. 

“Calling 111 First means that not only will you hopefully avoid a long wait, you’ll help keep the department free for those who really need it – something that is really important during the pandemic - and we will be able to see and treat you in a timely manner in the most appropriate NHS service.

GP surgeries in St Helens will be closed during the Easter weekend, including Good Friday and Easter Monday. However, you will still be able to access GP services via the out of hours providers.  If you or your family need medical attention over the Bank Holiday weekend, or in fact at any time, call 111 first or use 111 online.

Dr Ejunoeatse adds: “And the best way to make sure you don’t need to access health services is to take steps to avoid becoming unwell in the first place.

“Make sure you order prescriptions from your GP before they are closed for the bank holiday so you have medications you need. If, like most people, you plan to celebrate being able to meet friends and family then enjoy yourselves but do so responsibly.

“Please don’t forget that Covid rules still apply so continue to wash your hands, keep your distance from people who are not in your household and remember you still need to wear a face covering in places such as supermarkets.”

Many minor illnesses, ailments and injuries can be treated at home. Coughs, colds, sore throats, upset stomachs and aches and pains can be treated with a well-stocked medicine cabinet and plenty of rest. You can get everything you need as well as expert advice from your local pharmacy.

Many pharmacies will be operating under reduced opening hours over the Easter weekend.

Click here to see St Helens pharmacy opening times.