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Public asked to plan ahead, stay safe and use health services wisely ahead of industrial action and bank holiday

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NHS teams in the region are urging the public to plan ahead, stay safe and use health services wisely as they prepare for a further two days of industrial action and the expected high pressure on services for the August bank holiday weekend.

NHS leaders are extremely concerned that services will remain very stretched over the August bank holiday weekend following the two days of industrial action by NHS hospital consultants taking place on the Thursday 24 and Friday 25 August, which will already have a very heavy impact on services.

They are appealing to people across the north east and north Cumbria to take extra care as they enjoy the summer bank holiday.

Dr Neil O'Brien, executive medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: "Every bank holiday is always a very busy time for the NHS, and teams will be there to help those that urgently need treatment and care in life threating situations. However, with high demand for services following a period of significantly reduced staffing, we are expecting services to be disrupted and patients can expect lengthy delays.

"We ask again for everyone's support through this challenging time and there are three key things that people can do:

1.     Plan ahead - stock up your medicine cabinet with essentials such as paracetamol, indigestion tablets, plasters, and antiseptic cream, as well as making sure you have enough repeat prescriptions to last over the holiday period.

2.     If you do need medical care and it's not life threatening, contact NHS 111 online or your nearest pharmacy. You can check which pharmacies are open over the bank holiday. Both services would refer you for further treatment should you need it.

3.     Enjoy the bank holiday safely - take care when out gardening, tackling DIY or taking part in an outdoor activity, and try and reduce your alcohol intake."

For local pharmacy services search Find a pharmacy - NHS (www.nhs.uk) or for pharmacies open in the North East and North Cumbria on the bank holiday please check  here.

Dr O'Brien added: "Local GP services, although generally closed over the bank holiday, will be open as normal throughout the industrial action period. People should seek medical attention from their local surgery in the usual way."

"I'd also like to thank all health and care teams across the region for their work over this busy time, as always your dedication in helping those people who need help and support is greatly appreciated."

People with hospital appointments should attend unless they have heard otherwise, although it may be necessary for some appointments and treatments to be postponed as emergency care and life-threatening cases are prioritised.

Public are reminded for everyday illnesses and injury to use the on-line symptom checker available at  www.111.nhs.uk, which will re-direct to a health professional if people need to be seen by someone. Also self-care advice is available online from the NHS at  www.nhs.uk.

Parents, carers and young people can also use the  Healthier Together app or  website which provides NHS healthcare advice and top tips on a range of child related illnesses along with information on local services.

Anyone needing urgent mental health support should seek it via their local Crisis Team. People can put their postcode in  here to find their local Crisis line.

'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very thankful and relieved patient'.

Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital of North Durham