Public urged to use NHS 111 Online ahead of bank holiday weekend and busy period of industrial action

Health leaders are urging members of the public to use NHS 111 Online for non-emergency healthcare needs ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend - with subsequent days of industrial action likely to see significant pressure on the NHS.

The combination of the upcoming bank holiday and a four-day strike planned by junior doctors – from 7am on April 11th to 7am on April 15th – will create significant challenges for the NHS and it is vital the public are aware of the pressure the health service will be under and know the best way to access care during that time.

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Medical Director Prof Rowan Pritchard Jones recommends using NHS 111 Online for non-emergency healthcare needs.

The online service works the same as over the phone and is already popular with people who want quick advice about the best options for getting the care they need. These can include a call back from a trained clinician or nurse, an appointment in A&E or important advice.

Prof Pritchard Jones said: “We expect it to be another extremely busy time for the NHS 111 phone service. We are prepared for this, but callers may wait longer to get through on the phone at the busiest times. For this reason, we’d recommend using NHS 111 Online if you can.

“We always receive many calls from people who’ve run out of prescription medication or that need over-the-counter remedies. To avoid this happening, I would recommend everyone to check you have enough of your prescribed medication and have a stocked medicine cabinet to get you through the holiday and beyond.”

Andy, 37, from Wirral, used NHS 111 Online in the run up to Christmas when he had an accident at home: “I was chopping wood for our log fire when I crushed my finger with the axe. I knew the NHS would be busy so I used NHS 111 Online to see what steps I could take.

“Despite there being a nurses strike that day; I was given an appointment at a Minor Injuries Unit straight away. I was seen, had an x-ray, my finger was strapped up and I was back home within an hour of logging onto the website.”

Almost half of all hospital doctors in the country are junior doctors - you will see junior doctors working in almost every part of a busy hospital.

Urgent and emergency care services will be open over the bank holiday and the industrial action period and people should always call 999 or attend accident and emergency services in the event of a life or limb threatening emergency.

The NHS will continue to deliver planned care where possible, especially for patients in greatest clinical need, and we would urge the public to attend any planned appointments unless contacted directly by the NHS to reschedule.

Local NHS services will be using their websites and social media channels to provide up to date information to the public about local service disruption – so please check before you travel.

NHS 111 Online can tell you:

  • Where to get help for your symptoms
  • How to find general health information and advice
  • Where to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine
  • How to get a repeat prescription
  • How to get an emergency dental appointment

More information about when to call 999 and when to go to A&E is available via the national NHS website.