Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is asking people in Swindon to be aware of their local healthcare options that are available during the Easter holidays, so they can seek help early on if they feel unwell.

The Trust has found that some patients could have avoided being admitted to hospital had they been treated by a healthcare professional before their condition worsened.

This is especially true for people over 65, young children and people with long term conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who are more at risk of developing complications from minor illnesses such as coughs or colds.

Julie Marshman, Chief Nurse at the Great Western Hospitals, said: “The bank holiday season can be an extremely busy time for our emergency services and often, people will avoid seeking help as they don’t want to add to the pressure, but this is the last thing we want.

“It’s important for people to seek help and be treated quickly, before their condition worsens and they end up in hospital.

“There are some great local healthcare options in Swindon which you can access without an appointment and we’re urging local people to consider using them before coming into ED so that the department can support those who need it most.

“People who need urgent medical attention or advice should call the free NHS 111 phone number. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and it is the fastest and easiest way for anyone to access urgent healthcare.”

If you have an urgent health concern and can’t wait to see your GP, you can turn up without an appointment to the Urgent Care Centre at the Great Western Hospitals, open every day from 7am until 10pm, even throughout the Easter bank holiday.

Similarly, the Swindon NHS Health Centre which is based in the Swindon town centre offers a walk-in service from 8am until 6pm, 365 days a year.

People suffering from more serious conditions, including broken bones, severe bleeding, chest pains and breathing difficulties, should always call 999 or attend the Emergency Department at the Great Western Hospitals as soon as possible.

Gill May, Director of Nursing and Transformation, Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Although most pharmacies in Swindon will be closed for four days after Thursday 18 April, there are some which will be open throughout the long weekend, including three that will be open on Easter Sunday.

“Pharmacies do a lot more than just arranging repeat prescriptions. In fact, pharmacists can offer private consultations, write prescriptions for antibiotics and other medicines, give advice on how to manage minor injuries and illnesses, while also signposting patients in the direction of where to go should they need to be seen by another healthcare professional.

“I would encourage anybody who begins to feel unwell over the Easter weekend to make the pharmacy their first port of call when searching for healthcare as, in most cases, doing so will ensure patients get the help they need quicker and without a lengthy wait.”

To find out more about healthcare options in Swindon, visitwww.gwh.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/healthcare-without-an-appointment/

For information about Easter bank holiday opening times for pharmacies in Swindon, please visithttp://www.swindonccg.nhs.uk/latest-news/395-easter-bank-holiday-opening-times-for-pharmacies-in-swindon

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