Don’t spend your bank holiday in A&E – that’s the advice from GPs, who are inviting patients to ensure they use the medical service that can help them best over the bank holiday weekend.

By making sure they have the basics in stock, patients can do a lot to help themselves. And by using the right service, such as NHS Direct, the walk-in centre and MedOCC or the out of hours GP service, they can keep A&E free for those who really need it. If a GP surgery is closed patients should still ring the number and listen for the ansaphone message which will provide details of the out of hours service. Dr Nathan Nathan, Chair of NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I would remind patients to check they have over-the-counter basics like paracetamol, antiseptic cream and practical things like plasters and a thermometer.

“If we have a sunny weekend, it is good advice for people to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, remember to drink plenty of water, and use sun cream. “It is particularly important for older people and young children to avoid sunburn and dehydration.”

People who need to see a GP when their practice is closed can go to the walk-in centre, Medway NHS Health Centre in Canterbury Street, Gillingham. It is open from 8am to 8pm 365 days a year and patients don’t have to be registered with the practice but may have a wait to be seen.

Local minor injury units (see details below) are open all day to treat the following injuries:

Sprains and strains, broken bones, wound infections, minor burns and scalds, minor head injuries, insect and animal bites, minor eye injuries and injuries to the back, shoulder and chest.

Dr Nathan added: “A&E is for serious or life-threatening accidents or illnesses. Please keep it free for those who really need the specialist treatment it provides.”

Helpful contacts:
• DentaLine – for dental emergencies that cannot wait until your dentist reopens. 01634 890 300. Open evenings and weekends.
• Mental Health Matters – for confidential, emotional support 24/7, phone 0800 107 0160
• Walk-in centre – the NHS Medway Healthcare Centre at 547-553 Canterbury Street Gillingham ME7 5LF, phone 01634 575232, is open from 8am to 8pm every day of the year. You can be seen even if you are not registered but may have a wait.
Minor Injuries Units (MIU) offer treatment for injuries that need medical attention but are not life threatening. There are MIUs at:

Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital
Bell Road
ME10 4DT
Telephone: 01795 418300
Open 9am to 9pm 7 days a week.

Sheppey Community Hospital
Plover Road, Minster-on-Sea
ME12 3LT
Telephone: 01795 879104
Open 9am to 9pm 7 days a week.

The following pharmacies are open on Bank Holiday Monday:

• Boots the Chemists, 30-34 Wilmot Street, Pentagon Centre, Chatham, ME4 4BB. Tel: 01634 405471. Monday, 10am-4pm
• Island Pharmacy, 63 Aster Drive, Chatham, ME4 3EB. Tel: 01634 891207. Monday, 4pm-10pm
• Asda, 387 Maidstone Road, Chatham, Kent, ME5 9SE. Tel: 01634 663010. Monday, 9am-6pm

• Tesco Pharmacy, Courtney Road, Gillingham, ME8 0GX. Tel: 01634 490447. Monday, 10am-6pm

• Boots the Chemists, 5 Hempstead Valley Centre, Hempstead, Gillingham, ME7 3PB. TEL: 01634 388175. Monday, 9am-6pm

Rochester and Strood
• Karsons Pharmacy, 69-71 City Way, Rochester, ME1 2BA. Tel: 01634 405700. Monday, 10am-6pm
• Tesco Pharmacy, 3 Cuxton Road, Strood, ME2 2BT. Tel: 01634 497549. Monday, 11am-6pm