A recent survey of people in the Bristol area has found that very few people realise they can easily contact the out-of-hours GP for urgent health advice during evenings and weekends.
The YouGov survey, of 666 members of the public from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, revealed only 19% were aware they could see an out-of- hours GP, by dialling 111, the NHS urgent care service.
"We have doctors based at a variety of locations across Bristol including Southmead, Knowle West Health Park and the BRI. If you require urgent medical help or advice that cannot wait until your GP surgery re-opens in the morning or after a weekend, you can contact us by dialling 111. If needed, they can advise on the nearest Minor Injuries Unit as well. It is important to remember, however, that like all Urgent Care services, the Out of Hours GP service can become very busy at weekends and bank holidays, and should not be used in place of a routine visit to a patient’s own GP."
- Gill White from BrisDoc, the local out-of-hours GP service
The survey also found that people do not always want a routine GP appointment, and a high number of residents are in favour of digital solutions to get health advice. Internet based systems already offered by GP practices were popular, with 90% of survey respondents saying they would be likely to use this type of online system for booking appointments, 85 % for ordering repeat prescriptions, and 73% for accessing advice via an online consultation form.
Further information on the out-of-hours GP service can be found on the BrisDoc website:
For parents of young children, the free HANDi App is available for Apple and Android phones and provides simple and straightforward advice on what to do and who to contact, with illness-specific home assessment guidelines for six common childhood illnesses.
Young children are also among the most likely to attend A&E for non-emergency injuries or illnesses, and could often receive the care they need from out-of-hours services without requiring a trip to the emergency department.
Alternatives to A&E
Minor injuries units (MIUs) and walk-in centres
MIUs are available in Bristol, Clevedon and Yate offering fast, local treatment of minor injuries such as strains, sprains and broken bones, without a trip to A&E. They are available seven days a week. Dial 111 for details.
Bristol also has a walk-in centre at 59 Broadmead and an urgent care centre at South Bristol Community Hospital, offering the same services as minor injuries units as well as help with minor illnesses and emergency contraception and advice.
Out-of-hours GP services
Out-of-hours GP services are also available. Dial your local practice for details or call 111 to be put through.
The NHS 111 service is also available for people who urgently need medical help or advice, but it’s not a life-threatening situation. It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is free to call from a mobile or landline.
A&E and 999
A&E and 999 are for serious and life-threatening injuries and conditions, such as loss of consciousness, heavy blood loss, severe chest pain, head injuries or a suspected stroke or heart attack. In these circumstances, don’t hesitate – call 999 for immediate assistance.