People are being urged to plan ahead this Christmas when it comes to their health.
With some health services, such as GPs and pharmacists, working less hours over the holiday period, people need to plan in advance for any anticipated medical needs that may occur, such as prescription renewals.
"We want to remind people to be prepared this Christmas by renewing prescriptions early and to book GP appointments for routine visits during normal clinic hours. As the Christmas holidays are the busiest times for GP out-of-hours services, we are asking people to reserve this service for those with urgent medical problems only," commented Brian Murphy of the HSE.
He pointed out that as part of the 2017 Christmas period campaign, posters with up-to-date Christmas and New Year opening hours for each of the GP out-of-hours services will be displayed locally. A social media campaign is also hoping to prompt people to be prepared ahead of the holidays.
"We have also set up a 'Stay Well this Christmas' webpage on the HSE site at www.hse.ie/winter to provide information and advice on keeping well over the holiday period. I would urge everyone to take the time to prepare in advance, to use the GP out-of-hours services for urgent medical problems only, and to take measures to stay well this Christmas and New Year," Mr Murphy said.
The HSE is offering the following advice:
-Book an appointment at your own GP surgery for routine matters, but remember, most GP surgeries will be closed on December 23, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
-If you have a medical condition that requires medication, ensure you order sufficient supplies to cover the entire Christmas period and any trips away you may have planned
-Stock up on home medicine cabinet essentials at your local pharmacy, such as painkillers for adults and children, indigestion remedies, cough and cold medicines, plasters, bandages, antiseptic cream and contraceptives.
Meanwhile, the HSE is reminding people that GP out-of-hours services are available over the holiday period, including the weekends and bank holidays. However, it emphasised that this service is for ‘patients who have urgent medical problems that cannot wait until their own GP practice re-opens'.
If you are suffering from a common illnesses, such as a cough, cold, earache or sore throat, information and advice is available at undertheweather.ie, a website developed by the HSE in partnership with GPs and pharmacists.
This site includes a series of videos featuring GPs and pharmacists who offer their expertise on dealing with common illnesses, including offering practical remedies and advice on when to seek help from either a pharmacist or a doctor.