What do you do when you’re feeling unwell during the evening and weekends? Do you wait until the next working day to get help? Unless the condition is serious enough to go to A&E, many people suffer at home, unaware of the services that are available to them outside of GP hours. Out of hours services are a useful service that help you get the advice and treatment you need during hours that could be more convenient to you. Making the most of your out of hours services could change your approach to managing your healthcare, particularly during the tough winter months.
Why make the most of out of hours services?
Out of hours services are provided by GP practices after normal practice hours. They typically run from 6.30pm until 8am as well as throughout the weekend. If you become unwell or suffer an injury that needs attention but not emergency treatment, then you could get the help you need without having to wait until the next available GP appointment.
Out of hours is ideal if your working pattern means that going to a GP during the day is difficult, and can ensure you get the help you need on weekends without you having to suffer until Monday.
How to make the most of out of hours services
Patients have been crying out for better access to health services at times that are more convenient for them, and out of hours is one of the ways you can benefit. Currently, there are 1 in 4 weekend appointments being left unused by patients, so if you’ve never considered using out of hours services before, you should reconsider to ensure you get the help you need.
If you’re frustrated by the wait for a GP appointment or having to call first thing in the morning in the hope of getting seen, then an out of hours appointment could help you get the care you need without the typical waiting times. With many practices offering a seven-day service, you can get the treatment you need at a time that’s convenient for you.
Out of hours services cover a range of different needs, including GP services, dental services, opticians, pharmacies, urgent care and palliative care. NHS Choices provides a detailed guide to the out of hours services on offer.
Accessing your out of hours services
The best thing to do when you need medical help outside of normal GP working hours is to contact your GP surgery by phone. Most are transferred to out of hours centres, where you will be able to discuss your condition and will be advised on care or told to visit you nearest out of hours practice. Alternatively, you can dial 111 to seek advice. Sometimes you will be directed to your local pharmacy or given advice on how to self-care at home until you can get to your GP during normal practice hours.
For emergency and life-threatening situations, you can visit your A&E department or dial 999.
Out of hours appointments are there for when you need them, providing access to more convenient care round-the-clock. For information about the out of hours services available in East Berkshire, take a look at our homepage for details.