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Easter 2022: the NI healthcare arrangements you may need to know

The Department of Health has issued information on the different healthcare services available in Northern Ireland over the Easter holiday period and how to access them.

The Department says that if anyone in your family feels unwell it is important, to choose the service most appropriate to your symptoms, so you can get better quicker.

Emergencies

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In the event of a life threatening emergency always dial 999.

The Emergency Department should only be used for sudden and acute illness or severe trauma.

There are a range of other healthcare services available to help you such as the Phone First service, Minor Injuries Units, GPs, an Urgent Care Centre, Pharmacy First from Community Pharmacies, and NIPEARS participating optometry practices for eye problems.

Minor illness

If you have a mild or minor illness, you can find information about a range of common illnesses using the online symptom search at www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/illnesses-and-conditions

Choose the correct healthcare to suit your needs over the Easter holidays. Picture: Carl Court / Getty

Most of these can be treated with over-the-counter medicines and plenty of rest and whether treated or not, most of these will get better.

Remember to order your repeat prescriptions prior to your GP practice closing for the holidays.

Minor injuries Units

A minor injuries unit can treat injuries that are not critical or life threatening, such as injuries to upper and lower limbs, broken bones, sprains, bruises and wounds, burns and scalds, bites, cuts and wounds and eye injuries.

The Emergency Department at Antrim Area Hospital. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Further details about the service including locations and opening hours can be found on the nidirect website at www.nidirect.gov.uk

GP Out-of-Hours

GP practices will be closed from 6pm on Friday, April 15 until 8.30am on Wednesday, April 20.

If you require urgent medical care when your GP surgery is closed and cannot wait until they reopen, you should contact GP Out of Hours.

In preparation for the forthcoming Easter break, the Department of Health has been working with providers to ensure adequate levels of cover.

GP Out-of-Hours will be available from 6pm on Friday,April 15 to 8.30am on Wednesday, April 20.

Community pharmacies

Pharmacists can offer advice and treatment for common conditions, recommend treatment and refer patients to other healthcare professionals as appropriate.

Members of the public are urged to check the community pharmacy rota to find out when pharmacies are open in your local area.

Dental practices

If you experience a dental problem, patients should ring their dental surgery or if they are not registered with a dentist, they should contact a local dentist. Dentists will have arrangements in place to offer advice, prescription for pain relief or referral to an Urgent Dental Care Centre.

Optometry practices (opticians)

If you have an urgent eye problem during the holiday period, please contact your local optometrist in the first instance. If your optometry practice is closed and your eye problem is very urgent and cannot wait until normal opening hours, please contact your nearest hospital Emergency Department.

Out-of-hours Emergency Social Work Service

If you have a social care emergency which cannot wait until the next working day, please call the Regional Emergency Social Work Service 028 9504 9999.

You should always call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. If you or someone you know is in distress or despair call Lifeline on 0800 808 8000.

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