GPs in Northumberland are working closely together to extend appointments into the evenings and weekends.
The aim is to provide the most appropriate and convenient healthcare for the people living in the county.
Northumberland GP practices are providing GP appointments between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday and during the day at weekends. To book an appointment during these times patients should call their GP practice or NHS 111. Patients may find that in order to get a convenient appointment, they may be asked to attend another local practice. If a practice is closed, NHS 111 remains available for advice.
Dr David Shovlin, Hexham GP and director of primary care for NHS Northumberland CCG, said: “Winter is an extremely busy time for all parts of the health service as there are more viruses circulating. The cold weather also means more people are affected by sore throats, coughs and colds, flu and upset stomachs.
“Most common winter illnesses are best looked after at home with plenty of rest, fluids and over the counter medication which is available from a local pharmacist.
He added: “By extending access to GP advice and offering more appointments at times that people would like them, our aim is to help to support patients to see the right health professional for their needs.
“We are urging people to call their GP practice or NHS 111 so that they can be directed to the right advice and help.”
The NHS is advising the public to take sensible precautions to ensure they minimise the after effects of extreme cold weather. The elderly are advised to keep warm, both indoors and out. They should heat their homes to at least 18C, and there is still time to get their flu jabs to avoid unnecessary hospital stays.
Pharmacists are fully qualified to give advice on the best course of action, and should be seen as soon as anyone feels unwell. Older and vulnerable people should also stock up on medicines when possible.
More information about how the public can stay healthy during winter can be found on NHS Choices website.