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GP practices will be open on Friday May 8

All GP practices in east and west Suffolk will be open as normal on Friday’s bank holiday (May 8) – in support of the national campaign to encourage people to get the medical help they need.

Anyone wishing to contact their GP practice should do so by telephone or online.

Most community pharmacies will also be open on the bank holiday between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. for prescriptions and health advice. Patients showing coronavirus symptoms should not visit the pharmacy but can telephone for help and support.

24/7 mental health advice and support is available from First Response, a service delivered by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. If you are experiencing something that makes you feel unsafe, distressed or worried about your mental health call the helpline on 0808 196 3494. Online counselling and emotional wellbeing support for young people aged 11 – 25 years is available from Kooth and the Wellbeing Suffolk service offers a range of wellbeing support.

The national #StillHereToHelp initiative was launched last week amid concerns that during this time of coronavirus people are putting off contacting their GP surgery over unease they will be placing an extra burden on NHS staff. Local hospitals too have reported much lower levels of attendance at A&E departments.

The message is clear - the NHS is open for business and people with any health concerns should not be deterred from seeking help and advice from the most appropriate source – NHS 111 by telephone, NHS 111 Online or by contacting their GP practice.

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP in Stowmarket and chairman of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “All of our GP practices will be open as normal this Friday.

“If you’ve got concerns for yourself or a family member around coronavirus then the first course of action should still be visiting the NHS 111 Online symptom checker or calling NHS 111 for help and advice.”

Dr Christopher Browning, a GP in Long Melford and chairman of NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “If your concerns are non-coronavirus related, then in addition to NHS 111, your GP practice is open and staff are ready to help you.  In recent weeks fewer people have been contacting practices about things like suspicious lumps which could lead to a cancer diagnosis or symptoms of heart attacks.

“But please don’t be afraid to contact us, we’re still here to help.”

Tania Farrow, a pharmacist and Chief Officer of Suffolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee added: “Community pharmacies are still open to support you with minor ailments and to help you to stay fit and healthy throughout this period, as well as ensuring you have access to the medicines you need. They can also put you in touch with other people who can help you to stay well, so you get the right support when you need it.”

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