AS the bank holiday weekend approaches, Dorset residents are being given some simple advice to make sure they get the care they need and ease pressure on local healthcare services.

Launched in April 2013, 111 is for anyone requiring medical help that is not life threatening. It’s free, open 24 hours a day and all calls are dealt with by a trained advisor.

999 and emergency departments should only be used for life threatening situations and to treat those with the most serious illnesses or injuries.

Make sure you request any prescriptions earlier than normal.

Plan ahead and if possible try to ask for your repeat prescription from the GP at least a week before you are going to run out of medicines.

Some GP practices also offer the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS), which allows the prescription to be sent electronically to a pharmacy of choice choose, saving time.

Details on opening times of local health services including hospitals, GP surgeries and dentists, can be found online via NHS Choices at Local GP and member of NHS Dorset CCG Dr Patrick Seal reinforces the message that if people choose well they can help both themselves and other people.

He said: “The advice we give is based on the national Choose Well campaign and is all about helping people make the right choice when they have a situation where they need help. Don’t be afraid to seek advice for a genuine emergency situation but take a moment to think if your needs could be better dealt with in another way such as over the counter medicine. If you are uncertain, call 111.”