GPs are today urging patients to seek the right medical help over Easter to ensure people are treated as quickly as possible.

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The advice comes from health bosses ahead of Good Friday and Easter Monday when GP practices and many pharmacies will be closed.

To lessen the pressure on Ipswich Hospital’s emergency department, patients are asked to call the new NHS 111 number in non life-threatening incidents.

From there trained advisors will be able to direct you to the right health service for you.

Dr Imran Qureshi, an Ipswich GP and member of the governing body of the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG said: “There are a number of pharmacies open over the holiday weekend that will be able to help and offer over-the-counter medication for many minor injuries and illnesses.

“If you need help fast but it’s not life-threatening then you should call NHS 111.

“The freephone 111 number is available 24/7 and a trained advisor will help you with advice on getting the help you need with access to a clinical advisor if necessary.

“Perhaps you have a question about medication or a medical concern about yourself or someone else; maybe you want to find your nearest pharmacy that’s open over Easter or perhaps you have a health question that can’t wait until your GP surgery is open or you think you need to access the out-of-hours service.

“Basically, if the situation isn’t life threatening and you don’t know what to do, then call 111 for advice.”

And Dr Christopher Browning, chairman of the NHS West Suffolk CCG added: “There are lots of different ways you can access the right NHS service this Easter. By choosing the right option you will get treated more quickly and lessen the pressure on health staff over this busy weekend.

“Being prepared is the best option and could save a stressful dash to a pharmacy or an unnecessary trip to A&E.

“One of the best ways to be prepared is to have a well stocked medicine cabinet. It’s not expensive to stock up on basic items such as sticking plasters, paracetamol, anti-diarrhoeal medicine and indigestion remedy.”

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