An extra winter payment of £2.2m has been invested in GP services here to enable GPs to offer additional consultations with patients during the winter period. This will include the days immediately following the Christmas and New Year holidays, which have traditionally been busier days.
This investment to help alleviate winter pressures will also see GP practices offering same day urgent appointments, remaining open at lunch time with no half day closures following the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Dr Margaret O’Brien, Head of General Medical Services, Health and Social Care Board said, “We are delighted that the majority of GP practices have committed to supporting this initiative which will enable more people to get the urgent appointments they need and help reduce pressure on other parts of the health service especially over the end of year holidays. This investment will deliver much needed additional patient care over the busy winter period.”
This investment in GP services complements a further investment in pharmacy services from the Department of Health in the Pharmacy First service. Pharmacy First will enable patients to have a consultation in a private area with their community pharmacist for advice and treatment for sore throats, colds and flu-like illness. This will help support GP practices, GP out-of-hours services and Emergency Departments over the coming months when winter ailments occur more frequently.
Health authorities have made clear that a challenging winter period is expected across the UK, with heightened demand for hospital, GP and social care services.
As part of the Stay Well This Winter campaign, people are encouraged to look after themselves, use services appropriately, and take actions that will help them stay well this winter.
Self-care is the best choice to treat minor illnesses, ailments and injuries. Information about a range of common illnesses such as aches and pains, coughs, colds, upset stomachs and sore throats can be found using the new symptom checker on nidirect.
Most of these conditions can be treated with over the counter medicines and plenty of rest and whether treated or not, most of these will get better.
More information on staying well this winter can be found at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/stay-well