Lisburn residents have been warned to expect delays in responding to calls at the city’s GP Out of Hours service in coming weeks.
The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust predicted this week that delays would be caused by the “high increase in the volume of calls being received”.
The number of calls has increased every year, peaking at 100,000 in 2014, and the trust has reportedly experienced a 50% increase in workload at the Lisburn base in the past four years. A spokesperson said, “Most of the increase in calls has been for patients with coughs, colds and other self-limiting illness.
“Many of these conditions can be managed with simple remedies available from community pharmacies and the trust is encouraging patients to contact their pharmacist before contacting the GP Out of Hours Service.
“A number of patients also contact GP Out of Hours to request a repeat prescription.
“We have asked our GP colleagues to assist us to ensure that all patients are up to date with repeat prescriptions and we would encourage everyone to plan ahead and ensure that they do not run out of medicines. In an emergency, your community pharmacist may be able to sell you a small supply of medicines to allow you to get a repeat prescription when your doctor’s surgery reopens.
“The purpose of the GP Out of Hours service is to advise and treat urgent conditions which cannot wait until your doctor’s surgery reopens.
“We ask everyone to consider whether they need urgent medical care before contacting the Out of Hours service and to consider if they can wait until their normal GP service resumes.
“If you are unsure which service you need, visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/choosewell.”