understanding out of hours

Health Information Week – Understanding Out Of Hours

Next week marks Health Information Week, an excellent opportunity to take charge of your wellbeing by finding out more about your health services.

When you need to see a doctor, or you need medical treatment, your local GP surgery is there for you. You can make an appointment, or choose a walk-in option to help you get the treatment you need. But what if you need to help outside of practice hours? That’s where your out of hours services come in.

Find out more about the help available from your local out of hours service and how to access this useful health service.

Understanding out of hours

Your local GP surgery is typically open from 8.00am – 6.30pm, Monday to Friday. During this time you can make appointments, attend clinics, pick up prescriptions, etc. that help you take charge of your health.

However, your health doesn’t always conform to these hours. If you become ill or suffer an injury outside of these hours, then you can seek help from your nearest out of hours practice.

In the East Berkshire area, there are four main Primary Care Centres:

They offer appointments and treatment from 6.30pm until 8.00am the following morning, as well as on weekends and bank holidays. They are there to deal with urgent, but not emergency health matters. For severe accidents and illnesses, you should visit your nearest A&E department, at any time.

Using an out of hours service

If you need to see a doctor, but are unable to wait until your GP surgery opens, make a call to the NHS on 111. This is the NHS’s non-emergency line. When you make a call, the operator will discuss your symptoms with you and provide advice on what to do next. At this stage, you might come to a solution over the phone and can treat yourself at home or with the help of a pharmacist.

If the operator recommends that you see a doctor, they will direct you as to whether you need to go to A&E or an out of hours service. They will either make an appointment on your behalf or they will transfer you directly to the service they deem most appropriate for your needs.

It’s important to remember that out of hours services are not walk-in centres, and you’ll need an appointment to be seen.

Services offered by EBPCOOH

There are different services offered, depending on where you live. In East Berkshire the out of hours services that we provide include:

  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Opticians
  • Pharmacies
  • Palliative care nurses
  • District and community nurses

You may be able to access some or all of these services depending on the area where you live.

When to seek out of hours treatment

If you’re feeling unwell or have had an accident that’s caused an injury needing medical treatment, you should assess whether or not you can wait until your GP surgery is open to seek treatment. If you feel that it can’t wait until then or that you’re in a lot of pain, contact 111 for further advice.

You could also contact 111 for help with emergency prescriptions. While it’s good to stay on top of your prescriptions, some things like loss or forgetfulness can be out of your control. There are different options for out of hours medication available to you if you need urgent care.

For severe accidents and illnesses, don’t hesitate to visit your nearest A&E department. If you’re unsure about your condition, it doesn’t hurt to call 111 first.

Your local out of hours services are there to help you when you need them. You can find out more about us, including details of locations, services and opening times on the East Berkshire Primary Care Out of Hours website. Take charge of your health this Health Information Week by finding out more about the out of hours services available to you so you’re prepared.