Before you try to see a doctor or go to A&E, try this: Herts health chiefs issue DIY holiday advice

The Royal College of Nursing says too many overseas nurses are being turned away

The Royal College of Nursing says too many overseas nurses are being turned away - Credit: Archant

If you or someone close to you feels under the weather during the holiday break, don’t try to see your GP or head to hospital before you’ve followed a few simple steps.

That’s the message from health chiefs looking to make sure that stretched services are available to those who really need them.

The three step plan involves checking the NHS choices website for self-care advice and information on thousands of illnesses or conditions, or calling the NHS 111 phoneline for free, round the clock help when it’s less urgent than 999.

And if you really need to speak to someone face to face, your first port of call should be a pharmacist - for advice and low-cost medicines to ease your symptoms. A pharmacy is open in every area over Christmas and the New Year bank holidays.

GP Dr Nicky Williams, the vice-chair of the East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Herts doctors’ surgeries risk becoming overwhelmed by patients with coughs, colds and stomach upsets which cannot be treated with prescription medicines.

“Online health advice or a chat with a pharmacist, many of whom have private consulting rooms, should help with these sorts of illnesses.

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“At the same time, our hospitals are extremely busy and you may have a very long wait to be seen.

“If you have an injury or illness that is not life-threatening but must be seen by a doctor or nurse, call NHS 111 free at any time. The 111 advisors will be able to guide you to the nearest treatment centre for your needs.

For a list of Christmas and New Year pharmacy opening times, click here.

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