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Patients flood out-of-hours lines with 'unprecedented' calls

GP surgery. Library image courtesy NHS

Sickly patients have flooded health phone lines with an "unprecedented surge" in calls... and it's set to get worse!

Around 2,200 patients called an out-of-hours line in Kent and Medway for help last Saturday - a rise of almost half (46%) on the same time last year.

Festive-time calls were up by almost a third (31%) on Sunday, with 1,700 calls countywide.

Now health bosses have issued a warning - if you're feeling rough, try to "tough it out" where possible.

Colds, flu, tonsilitis and even norovirus have been laying patients low over the Christmas holidays.

Many wrongly believed their GP surgery was closed until after Christmas.

What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments belowNow health bosses in the county are worried the demand this weekend could be even worse and are reminding people that all GP practices in Kent and Medway are open as normal, apart from on New Year's Day.

Dr Mark Reynolds, medical director at South East Health said last weekend’s demand meant 500 more patients needed treatment compared with the same time last year.

He urged patients to only contact the service if they can’t be seen by a GP.

He said: “If people ring us with simple illnesses that don’t need much of a doctor's input, it’s much harder for us to get to the people that are really poorly, it swamps the service and makes it harder to respond to people who really would benefit during the out of hours period.”

He added that the majority of people suffering from simple cold, flu and virus symptoms could be treated at home.

“It’s the very young, the very old, people with underlying health issues that we really need to be looking after.”

A spokesman for the NHS in Kent and Medway said there had been an "unprecedented surge" in calls to the out-of-hours service, which is for urgent, new medical problems.

Services available over the festive period


NHS Direct – for any health questions, around the clock, and to find your local NHS services, phone NHS Direct on 08 45 46 47 or visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

Walk-in centres

These are where you can see a GP even if you are not registered with them. They are open every day, including New Year’s Day (unless otherwise stated) at: 

DMC Healthcare Centre, 547-553 Canterbury Street, Gillingham, ME7 5LF. 01634 575232. Open 8am-8pm. 

Sheppey NHS Healthcare Centre, Sheppey Community Hospital, Plover Road, Minster on Sea, Sheerness. ME12 3LT. 01795 879199. Open 8am-8pm.

White Horse Surgery, Vale Road, Northfleet, DA11 8BZ. 0300 0300 000. Open 8am-8pm. (Closed Christmas Day)

Minor injuries units – all are open every day, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day (unless otherwise stated)

Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital, Sittingbourne: Open 9am to 9pm every day. (01795 418300)

Sheppey Community Hospital, Sheppey: Open 9am to 9pm every day, except 25 December. (01795 879104)

Buckland Hospital, Dover: Open Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm, weekends and holidays open 10am to 6pm. (01304 222 612)

Victoria Hospital, Deal: Open 8am to 6pm, every day (01304 865400)

Folkestone walk-in centre: Open Monday to Friday 7am to 10pm, weekends and holidays open 9am to 10pm. (01303 854494)

Estuary View Medical Centre, Estuary View Business Park, Boorman Way, Whitstable: Open 8am to 8pm every day. (01227 284309)

Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Ethelbert Road, Canterbury: Open 24 hours, every day. (01227 864244)

Faversham Cottage Hospital, Bank Street, Faversham: Open 8am to 8pm, every day.

Gravesham Community Hospital Minor Injury Unit, Bath Street, Gravesend: Open 8am to 8pm, every day (01474 360500)

Sevenoaks Hospital MIU, Hospital Road, Sevenoaks: Open 8am to 8pm, every day.
(01732 470200)

Edenbridge Hospital MIU, Mill Hill, Edenbridge: Open 8.30am to 6.30pm every day (01732 863164)


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