The public are being urged to use the GP Out of Hours service locally wisely ahead of the busiest season.
Last year GP Out of Hours received 85,387 calls.
And about half of these were resolved with telephone advice. Some patients required an appointment at a base and a smaller number received a home visit.
With an increase in flu and other viruses over the winter months, demand for the service always rises.
Dr Alan Evans, Clinical Lead for GP Out of Hours, urged a common sense approach.
“We have a very busy team of GPs, Nurses and Pharmacists who will treat everyone as quickly as possible, always prioritising those with the most serious and urgent symptoms.
“However, we still continue to receive quite a volume of non-urgent calls for example for colds, hangovers, or other minor ailments that can be treated at home with over the counter medication.
“Please always call us if you have urgent medical symptoms like shortness of breath, fits or seizures – but we remind people that we are not a substitute for visiting a GP surgery during daytime hours.
“The less non urgent calls we receive, the quicker we can respond to those who genuinely need urgent medical help – so please take a minute to think about which service you need and wait if you can, but by all means call if you can’t.”
The team is also reminding people to plan ahead before the holiday period by ordering their repeat prescriptions and stocking up with useful over the counter medications like paracetamol, ibuprofen, decongestants and indigestion remedies.
Always phone the GP Out of Hours first on 028 3839 9201 as many patients can be given telephone advice and will not need to attend a centre.
Patients who don’t phone first may have to wait longer to be seen or may be redirected to a more appropriate service.
For more information on using the right service and staying well this winter go to www.nidirect.gov.uk
Sign up for our weekly newsletter here.