The NHS provides all of us with round the clock healthcare and services. That means that everyone is able to access the medicines they need even outside of usual surgery hours. The official Out of Hours period is 6.30pm to 10.30pm on weekdays and all day on weekends and bank holidays. It is important that you are fully aware of what services are available to you during these times.
In the event that you run out of your urgently-needed medication outside of GP opening hours, there are a few places to go and people to speak to in the East Berkshire area to help you get your supply quickly and urgently. These include pharmacies, the non-emergency NHS helpline, Walk-In Centres and emergency services.
Keep on reading to find out more about each of these resources, when you should use them and how to access out of hours medicines in East Berkshire.
Accessing Out Of Hours Medicines – What Are The Options?
Recent studies have shown that around 91% of people aren’t fully aware of all the services that pharmacies offer. In addition to dealing with minor ailments and giving medical advice, your local pharmacist can dispense the medicine you need. Many pharmacies are open outside of GP-opening hours.
When you need your medication after 6.30pm or on a bank holiday/weekend, it is well worth checking out whether a pharmacy close to your home is open. There are plenty of pharmacies in the East Berkshire area, so if your local one is closed, try the NHS Pharmacy Search Service to find another one close by that is still open.
Speak to someone on the phone
In some circumstances you may wish to seek advice regarding accessing out of hours medicines. If you would like to speak to someone directly at any time of day, you can call the NHS non-emergency helpline on 111. The healthcare professional you speak to will be able to give you the guidance you need regarding your medication and will look up an out of hours NHS service in your area for you.
In addition to this, some GP surgeries can be contacted outside of service times for patients who urgently need to access out of hours medicines. This option may be available on evenings, weekends and public holidays and should only be used in an emergency. If you believe this is right course of action for you, find your doctor’s contact details on the NHS GP Service Finder.
NHS Walk-In Centres (WICs) provide patients with a full range of treatments. Managed by Clinical Commissioning Groups and staffed by nurses, these centres are a great option for accessing out of hours medicine in non-emergency cases. Everyone is welcome to use Walk-In Centres, but it is important to note that only some WICs will dispense medication after a one-on-one consultation.
In the case of a serious emergency which requires you to urgently access out of hours medicine, you should go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Unit. If the situation is life-threatening then you must dial 999 and ask for help.