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Dr Nick Balac: Help the NHS through this busy period

Dr Nick Balac: Help the NHS through this busy period
16 December 2016

Most of Barnsley’s GP surgeries will be closed for up to four days in a row during this year’s Christmas and New Year period with the bank holidays falling next to weekends.

So please, if you are on regular medication, check that you have enough to see you through the festivities and, if not, order a repeat prescription well before Christmas Eve.

There will still be GPs on duty in Barnsley when your own surgery is closed – day and night – and they are easy to contact. All you have to do is ring your normal surgery number or 111.

As the cold weather kicks in the whole of the NHS gets busier and this year we also have the I HEART Barnsley GP service available for everyone. They offer additional GP and Nurse appointments to everyone across the borough during the day and up to 10pm on a weekday and 1pm on a Saturday and Sunday. Ring 01226 242429 for an appointment – it’s not a walk-in – and you will be given advice over the phone or offered an appointment either that day or the next. You can contact them by email if that works better for you, just look for them on the internet or facebook.

We all know that a lot of illnesses, or symptoms, can be treated at home by having a well-stocked medicine cabinet and by getting plenty of rest. Be prepared with essential medicines in case you get ill, such as paracetamol and cough medicine. Your local pharmacist is there to advise you.

Our pharmacists in Barnsley are highly trained professionals who can give you advice on common illnesses and the medicines you need to treat them. We run a scheme called PharmacyFirst, which means your pharmacist can give medicines for common illnesses, without you having to see a GP. If you don’t normally pay for NHS prescriptions, then any medicine supplied under the PharmacyFirst scheme will be free.

And please remember to keep an eye on any elderly neighbours, particularly if they are living on their own. Many are too proud to ask for help, but they may need it. Let's help everyone stay well this winter.

This year we’re doing lots of work with people who live with chronic asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, often called COPD, an umbrella term for breathing conditions such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema. There are around 8,000 people across Barnsley who are diagnosed with COPD.

On average, three people living in Barnsley are admitted to hospital each day with a flare-up of COPD – which amounts to over 1,100 admissions per year. I’d encourage people to follow the advice on how to stay healthy and to really watch out for the early warning signs of a flare-up during the winter months. Fast treatment is important, as getting the right medication early can really help people avoid being admitted to hospital. These are some of things people find works well for them: keeping your medications close, anyone with COPD who has to take a reliever should take it 20 minutes before going outside.  Having enough medicines in stock and avoiding the flu by getting your free jab.

I’d like to wish you all well over this festive period and say a big thank you to all the health and care staff and to carers across the borough, who will be keeping us going during that time.