Special arrangements are in place to make sure people in Devon can access GP and pharmacy services over the Easter weekend.
To respond to the current high demand from patients, GP practices across Devon, Torbay and Plymouth will be opening on Good Friday and Easter Monday as if they were normal working weekdays – from 8am to 6pm. Since the start of the outbreak, practices across the county have been asking patients to contact them via phone or online contact form on their website (as opposed to walking in) in the first instance if they need help – and this is how to contact them on Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Outside of these hours and on Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday, out-of-hours GP services will continue to be provided in the normal way by Devon Doctors by contacting 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111.
Many community pharmacies will also be open on Good Friday and Easter Monday. Find your nearest pharmacy and its opening times here: www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-pharmacy
For full pharmacy rotas over Easter, see: www.england.nhs.uk/south/info-professional/pharm-info/pharmacy-opening-hours/
Dr Paul Johnson, local GP and clinical chair of NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for primary care in the county, said: “It’s a worrying time and practices are busy, so each GP surgery will be working with neighbouring practices to run a normal weekday service on the Easter public holidays.
“It is further evidence of the dedication of GPs, nurses and other vital practice staff that they are continuing to provide a crucial service at a time when they would normally be looking forward to a break – I’d like to thank them for their ongoing commitment at this challenging time.”
Patients should contact their practice in the normal way (online or by phone) and if they need to be seen, they will be directed to their normal surgery, or, in some cases, another practice in the local area.
Local people are also being reminded that GP practices and pharmacies have to make some changes to the way they work to keep patients and staff safe. For example, GPs are enabling patients to speak to their doctor either online, over the phone or by video. This limits exposure and unnecessary contact.
Pharmacy teams are also working around the clock to make sure customers get the medicines they need. Pharmacies are having to the limit the numbers of people in the stores during the day, in order to keep people safe.
Sue Taylor, Chief Officer for Devon Local Pharmaceutical Committee said: “Please be patient and treat staff with respect as they do their job.
“There are no shortages of medicines so please order and buy products as normal and remember, some over-the-counter medicines can be bought elsewhere.
“You can also help us by only requesting your usual supply of medications when required and not try and do it early or order extra, to help the supply chain keep up with demand. We will make sure suitable provision is made for people self-isolating owing to illness or being in at risk groups.
“Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.”