When it comes to the NHS, many Doncaster people have two contact points when ill – their GP surgery and the A&E Department at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
GPs and A&E staff are constantly under pressure, trying to manage huge numbers of patients who need help. That’s why the clinical commissioning group I chair has looked at other options for those needing advice or treatment.
This is particularly relevant this week as we move towards the extended Easter break, when GP practices will be closed for four days. A&E is for serious and life-threatening conditions only, such as chest pains and severe bleeding and should not be used as a walk-in centre for minor problems like earache.
Similarly, Yorkshire Ambulance Service crews will be extra busy so please don’t ring 999 unless it is a real emergency. Ambulances are not taxis, so dialling 999 inappropriately could potentially be a matter of life or death for somebody somewhere else that really needs one.
There are alternatives if you need help and it’s not an emergency.
GPs will be on duty in Doncaster over the shutdown period, all you have to do is ring your normal surgery number and you will be automatically transferred through to the out-of-hours service or an answerphone message will tell you which number to ring to contact them.
Some GPs will open for a few hours on Saturday, April 4 and Monday, April 6 – check if yours does. The health centre at the Flying Scotsman Centre is open every day from 8am to 8pm. Ring for an appointment. Minor injury units at Goole, Montagu and Selby hospitals open every day for dealing with cuts, strains, rashes and sprains.
Many illnesses like coughs, headaches and diarrhoea can be treated at home by keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet or over-the-counter medicines. Pharmacists are trained health professionals who can give advice on common illnesses and the medicines you need to treat them. Most now have a consultation room where you can speak privately.
Some will be open over the Easter bank holiday. You can see the full list of opening times on our website www.doncasterccg.nhs.uk.
In addition, we have funded a new Minor Ailments Scheme which over 20 Doncaster based pharmacies have signed up to.
They can provide treatments for a number of ailments, including chicken pox, sore throat, constipation, conjunctivitis and hay fever. The scheme is open to anyone registered with a GP practice based in Doncaster.
* Dr Nick Tupper, Chairman, Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group