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Extra investment in GP services for urgent appointments after Christmas holidays


An extra winter payment of £2.27m has been invested in GP services here to enable GPs to offer additional consultations with patients during the winter period. This will include the days immediately following the Christmas and New Year holidays, which have traditionally been busier times.

This investment will see GP practices offering same day urgent appointments, remaining open at lunch time and no half day closure following the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Dr Margaret O’Brien, Head of General Medical Services in the Health and Social Care Board said, “We are delighted that the majority of GP practices have committed to supporting this initiative which will enable more people to get the urgent appointment they need and help reduce pressure on other parts of the health service, over the end of year holidays. This investment will deliver much needed additional patient care over the busy winter period.”

£2.1m has also been invested by the Department of Health in a Pharmacy First service.  This service will enable patients to have a consultation in a private area with their community pharmacist, receiving advice and treatment for sore throats, colds and flu-like illnesses. This valuable service will help to support GP practices, GP out-of-hours services and Emergency Departments over the coming months when winter ailments occur more frequently.

As part of the Stay Well This Winter campaign, people are encouraged to look after themselves, use services appropriately, and take actions that will help them stay well this winter.

Self-care is the best choice to treat minor illnesses, ailments and injuries. Information on a range of common illnesses and their treatment, including aches and pains, coughs, colds, upset stomachs and sore throats can be found using the new symptom checker on nidirect.

Most of these conditions can be treated with over the counter medicines and whether treated or not, most of these will get better with plenty of rest.

More information on staying well this winter can be found at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/stay-well