Thousands of NHS staff will be working tirelessly over the bank holiday weekend to care for those in urgent need in Surrey and south west London.

Doctors, nurses, porters, and cleaners are among the 3,000-plus staff working on Monday at St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group – and more will be working a shift over the weekend itself.

Like all bank holidays it is expected to be very busy, and members of the public are urged to take steps to ensure care can be prioritised for those who need it most.

Dr Richard Jennings, Group Chief Medical Officer, said: “It’s been busier than usual in our hospitals this week – and as we head into a bank holiday weekend, we know that could ramp up even further.

“Please help us to help our sickest and most seriously ill patients, and use NHS 111 online if your healthcare need is less urgent.”

People are urged to come forward for care in life-threatening situations, but otherwise advised to use NHS 111 first.

Going to an emergency department when it’s not life-threatening doesn’t mean you will be seen more quickly and you may be redirected to a more appropriate service such as a pharmacy or GP.

Some pharmacies will be open over the bank holiday weekend and can help with treatments for illnesses such as tonsillitis, coughs, colds and earaches, while injuries like sprains and strains can be treated at home.

With the weather getting warmer, there are also steps you can take to stay safe and well.

Take measures to ease symptoms of hayfever – such as using antihistamine medication, keeping windows and doors shut as much as possible, and wearing sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes.

Wear sunscreen if you are going outside, and remember you can still burn, even if it’s cloudy. If you do get sunburn, it should be treatable at home. Make sure, also, that you stay hydrated, enjoy alcohol in moderation, and protect your eyes in the sun.

Dr Jennings added: “Most people will no doubt welcome the warmer weather that’s expected this weekend, and we hope they are able to make the most of it.

“We don’t want to discourage people from having fun but would ask everyone to take these small steps to support our dedicated staff and to help them and our other patients during this busy time.”

Next Saturday is also expected to be busy at Epsom Hospital, in particular, with the annual Epsom Derby racing back into town.

The hospital is saddling up for a busy day, and will be ensuring there is additional support in its emergency department late afternoon and into the evening. A senior doctor will also support St John Ambulance’s on-site field hospital, which aims to treat people at the scene to minimise emergency department admissions.

  • To find out more about accessing the care you need, and for pharmacy opening hours, visit the NHS website.