HEALTH bosses are urging patients to choose the right venue for treatment, as the Christmas rush on hospitals begins.
Rotherham’s top urgent care doctor advised everyone to try their pharmacy first, except for emergency cases.
Many of these will be open over the holiday period, when hospitals and GP surgeries are closed.
Combined with the NHS 111 advice service, most ailments can be handled in the home.
Dr David Clitherow, GP lead for urgent care at NHS Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Coughs, colds, sore throats, aches and pains can be self-treated at home with a well-stocked medicine cabinet.
“NHS 111 and pharmacists are highly qualified to give advice on a wide range of common health problems and the best way to treat them.
“However, if your symptoms are severe and won’t go away then there are doctors available when your own practice is closed to provide advice.”
Pharmacies can offer advice on illnesses and how to treat them with over-the-counter drugs, as well as prescribing medicines.
Some pharmacies will even be open on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Dr Clitherow added: “At this time of year most people, especially children, get coughs and colds — but pharmacists can prescribe free oral paracetamol.
“The best way to look after someone with a cold or cough is to make sure they have plenty to drink.
“You do not need to visit a doctor — instead, if the symptoms persist, you should contact your pharmacy to get the right medicine for your illness.
“Choosing the right treatment over the next couple of weeks will help patients get better quicker and help clinicians to help those in most need of medical attention.”
The 24-hour NHS 111 helpline will remain open throughout Christmas to provide advice and arrange out-of-hours GP appointments.
Opening times for pharmacies can be viewed here.
GP practices will be open as normal, from 8am to 6.30pm, until Friday, December 22.
They will re-open on Wednesday, December 27 until Friday, December 29.
Appointments are available at Broom Lane Medical Centre from 8am to 2pm on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Patients should speak to a receptionist at their own practice, who can book an appointment and advise where to attend.
But all surgeries will be closed on Christmas Day — only out-of-hours support via NHS 111 will be available.
The following GP services will be available over the festive period:
- December 22 — Normal opening times for all GP practices in Rotherham.
- December 23 and 24 — Appointments from 8am to 11am at Broom Lane Medical Centre only.
- December 25 — All GP services closed. Ring NHS 111 for out-of-hours advice and support.
- December 26 — Only Broom Lane Medical Centre open for appointments, between 8am and 2pm.
- December 27 to 29 — Normal opening times for all GP practices.
- December 30 — Appointments available from 8am to 11am at Broom Lane Medical Centre, Kimberworth Park Medical Centre and Dinnington Group Practice.
- December 31 — Appointments available from 8am to 11am at Broom Lane Medical Centre only.
- January 1 — Appointments available from 8am to 2pm at Broom Lane Medical Centre only.