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NHS and care leaders in South Yorkshire are advising communities to take action ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend and are offering guidance of how to access services over the course of the weekend.

People are advising communities to make sure they order and collect prescriptions or stock home medicines as some community pharmacies may close during the holiday. NHS and care staff are also working hard to ensure those patients who become well enough to spend the holiday at home can be discharged in time, and will be working closely with families to facilitate this.

Urgent and emergency services are likely to be busier than usual ahead of and following the funeral of Her Majesty the Queen. In addition, most health and care services will continue across the region and teams are working to limit disruption to outpatient appointments, GP appointments and other routine appointments that will be affected as health and care staff mark the funeral. Patients will be contacted directly by the relevant NHS or care provider to let them know if their appointment or procedure is affected.

Mental health support is available for anyone in a crisis and anyone needing support for anxiety, depression, low mood can access services directly.

Gavin Boyle, Chief Executive of NHS South Yorkshire, said: “It was with much sadness that we learned Her Majesty The Queen had died. Everyone working in the NHS and Care send their heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family at this time of national mourning.

“We know that before, during and after bank holidays our urgent and emergency services tend to be busier than usual. We anticipate this weekend and next week will be similar as communities rightly come together to remember Her Majesty the Queen. As such, we would ask all our communities to use urgent and emergency services appropriately and use the online NHS111 service initially for non-emergency needs.

“What will be different is that the NHS doesn’t schedule outpatient appointments, GP appointments and other routine appointments on planned bank holidays. To ensure as many NHS and care staff as possible can mark the passing of Her Majesty the Queen themselves, some of these appointments on Bank Holiday Monday will be rescheduled. The providers of these services will be in touch with patients directly to inform them if they are affected.”

The NHS and care will be taking pre-emptive measures ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, and this includes supporting our communities to access pharmacies in advance of any closures to restock or re-order repeat prescriptions

Dr James Griffiths, Emergency Department Consultant, said: “People turning up at hospitals with minor illnesses may face long waits for treatment. We do see people who attend Emergency Department (A&E) with coughs and colds, or other minor ailments, which can be easily treated by a pharmacist or at home.  For more advice and guidance, I would ask our communities to visit NHS111 online, which can direct you to the most appropriate service.

“Pharmacies can help with advice and give many over the counter solutions to colds, tummy troubles and rashes. Some of these may be affected by the Bank Holiday, so if you need a routine prescription please make plans to do so before the Bank Holiday if you may run short of your usual medicine.”

NHS and Care staff will be supporting those inpatients in hospitals and care facilities who are well enough to return home ahead of the Bank Holiday.

Cathy Winfield MBE, Chief Nursing Officer of NHS South Yorkshire, said: “I know many patients who are in hospital this week will be anxious to get home so that they can spend the day with their family. Her Majesty The Queen meant so much to our communities, especially those of our older generation who may be in hospital at this time, and I know many will hope to watch the funeral at home with their families.

“We’ll be doing everything we can to ensure those who are well enough to go home can do so. For those who need to remain in hospital, I know our nursing teams across the system will do everything they can to support patients to mark the day.”

Gavin Boyle added: “The Queen dedicated her life to public service and we will always be grateful for the way she recognised the compassion and courage of those who worked in health and care. Those same staff will now mark the passing of Her Majesty the Queen themselves. On behalf of all senior NHS and care leaders, our clinical teams and the many teams who support them, we are very grateful to the public for using the appropriate service through this period."