NHS Tayside is urging members of the public to make sure they know where to get the right treatment, at the right place, at the right time.
When GP surgeries are closed the out-of-hours service and emergency departments see a significant increase in attendances, some of which could be dealt with elsewhere.
The out-of-hours service is for patients who become ill during the out-of-hours period and who cannot wait until their GP opens.
Dedicated teams of GPs, nurses, administration staff, drivers and Minor Injury & illness Unit staff in rural areas ensure that the service delivers safe and effective care to patients across Tayside.
Emergency department consultant Andrew Reddick said: “Around one in three people who visit emergency departments could receive treatment more appropriately by accessing a different service. This can put extra pressure on staff when they may be needed for a real emergency. People are not always aware of what alternatives are out there so we are urging members of the public to make sure they know where to access the most appropriate treatment.”
Dr Jane Bruce, clinical director for NHS Tayside’s out-of-hours service said: “Our priority is to ensure that patients receive the most suitable care in the right place at the right time.
“If you have a problem which cannot wait until GP surgeries reopen, you should contact NHS 24 on 111 and if you need to be seen, an appointment or a home visit will be arranged. However, with some minor illnesses and injuries, it is not always necessary to see a doctor or nurse and you can get helpful advice from your local community pharmacist to care for yourself at home.
“By ensuring that you access the right services for treatment, you can help us to focus on emergencies and problems that cannot wait until normal operating hours.”
The Tayside out-of-hours service currently operates from the Kings Cross Health & Community Care Centre in Dundee on an interim basis, however the Perth and Arbroath Primary Care Emergency Centres (PCEC) open to see patients locally as staffing allows. All GP visits overnight at weekends are also continuing.
This interim model has been put in place to ensure a safe and clinically effective service for patients and for staff and is due to difficulties affecting all health boards in filling the GP rotas particularly overnights and at weekends.
From October, the out-of-hours service also plans to run GP and nurse practitioner surgeries at the Perth and Arbroath PCECs at peak demand times for six hours every Saturday and Sunday.
The Tayside out-of-hours service is open from 6pm until 8am each weekday and 24 hours at weekends and public holidays. The service is by appointment only and can be accessed by calling NHS 24 on 111.
If you live in a rural area and have a minor illness like flu or earache or a cut, minor burn or sprain, NHS 24 may direct you to your local Minor Injury and Illness Unit.
Local pharmacists can also provide a whole range of services including free advice, support and guidance on all your health problems.