Members of the public are being urged to use NHS services wisely over the Easter bank holiday weekend – as stretched emergency departments continue to see winter-level pressures.

St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group is very busy and experiencing high demand.

On Monday more than 1,000 people visited the Group’s three emergency departments in total. Other Mondays in recent weeks saw similar levels of demand, but there have also been high numbers of attendances on other days. On a typical day, around 800 people would be expected through the doors.

Last week was the busiest this year with 6,441 people visiting our three emergency departments in total.

People should still continue to attend an emergency department or dial 999 when it’s an emergency and life-threatening – but when it’s less urgent, other services may be more appropriate.

Some GP surgeries and pharmacies will be open during the Easter break and NHS 111 is a 24/7 service where people can be given medical help or advice if they are unsure about what to do next.

GP surgeries and pharmacies can help with minor illnesses such as tonsillitis, coughs, colds and earaches.

There are also seven common conditions that pharmacists can now provide some prescription medicines for, if necessary, without seeing a GP first.

They are sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women (under the age of 65).

Injuries like sprains and strains can be treated at home – or a pharmacist can advise about the best treatment.

Repeat prescriptions can be ordered in time for Easter by planning ahead and using the NHS app or through a GP practice.

Kate Slemeck, Managing Director for St George’s Hospital, said: “We are currently very busy, and as we come into the bank holiday weekend I must once again ask members of the public for their help.

“We are always here for those who need care, and patients should still come forward in an emergency or if it’s life-threatening. But when it’s less urgent, NHS 111 online or a pharmacist should be the first port of call.”

If you need urgent mental health care, contact one of the 24-hour numbers for the right support service. Merton, Sutton, or Wandsworth residents should ring 0800 028 8000 or if in Surrey call 0800 915 4644.

To find a pharmacy near you that is open during Easter visit