Order prescriptions ahead of the May bank holidays

With three bank holidays in May, people in the Black Country are being encouraged to plan ahead and order any repeat prescriptions they may need.

GP practices and pharmacies will have limited opening hours over the bank holiday weekends, making it more challenging for patients to access medicines at short notice.

Every bank holiday, NHS 111 sees an increase in people contacting it about repeat prescriptions. Over the recent Easter bank holiday weekend, a quarter of all 111 online sessions in the Midlands were to do with repeat prescriptions.

To avoid this and to ensure health is not put at any unnecessary risk, people are being asked to submit any repeat prescriptions that are due for renewal in advance of the bank holiday weekends, the first of which takes place on Monday 1 May.

Dr Ananta Dave, Chief Medical Officer for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said: “With three bank holidays in May, it’s never been more important for people to order any repeat prescriptions they may need.

“As GP practices are closed on bank holidays, it is important to make sure prescriptions are filled beforehand. Those who depend on daily medication could find themselves becoming very poorly if their supply runs out over a long weekend.

“It can take up for five days for repeat prescription orders to be processed, so plan ahead now and make sure you’re not caught short.

“The easiest way to order repeat prescriptions is by using GP online services, via the NHS App or through your GP practice website. If you do not have access to GP online services, you can phone your GP practice to order prescriptions.”

If people feel unwell over the bank holiday weekend, but it’s not life threatening, they can check their symptoms and access advice by using the NHS 111 service online or by calling NHS 111.

NHS 111 can help direct people to the most appropriate local health service if they aren’t sure where to go – this could include an out of hours GP, a pharmacy, a local NHS walk-in centre, or a hospital accident & emergency (A&E) department.

A number of local pharmacies will remain open over the bank holiday weekend and should be the first port of call for any minor illnesses. To find your nearest pharmacy, including opening times, visit the NHS website here.

Spring booster jab roll out to start

Eligible people in the Black Country are being invited to come forward for a spring COVID-19 booster vaccination.

Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the latest phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme has now started, with care home residents first in line to receive a spring booster dose.

The offer will then be opened up to the remaining eligible groups, including:

  • People aged 75 and over (by 30 June 2023)
  • Those aged five or over (by 1 April 2023) who have a weakened immune system.

Those eligible for a spring booster will be contacted by the NHS by letter, text message or via the NHS App. Appointments can be booked via the National Booking System or NHS App, with first appointments available from Monday 17 April.

The NHS will prioritise those whose clinical need is greatest, as it has throughout the vaccination programme, starting with those who have had a bigger gap since their last dose. People who are eligible for a vaccine should make sure appointments take place at least three months after their last dose.

Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board, said: “Although life has gone back to normal for most people, COVID-19 is still with us and continues to be more serious in older people and in people with certain underlying health conditions.

“Booster doses are safe, effective, and help to top up your protection against serious illness from the virus.

“So, I would urge anyone who is eligible for a spring booster to book their appointment as soon as they can.”

Spring booster appointments will be available until 30 June. COVID-19 vaccinations, including first and second doses, for everyone who was aged 5 on or before 31 August 2022 will also end after on this date, following recent advice from the JCVI. After 30 June, only people at higher risk will be invited for future vaccinations.

Sally Roberts, added: “The COVID-19 vaccine has saved countless lives, helped thousands of people to stay out of hospital, and made it safer for us to live with the virus without fear or restrictions.

“We encourage anyone eligible who has had just one COVID-19 vaccination, or not had one at all, to come forward for their vaccine as soon as possible before the offer ends in June.”

First and second COVID-19 vaccines can still be booked via the National Booking System or by calling 119.

For more information on spring boosters, please visit the NHS website here.

Reminder to cancel GP appointments that are no longer needed

People in the Black Country are being reminded to play their part and help the NHS by cancelling GP appointments if they are no longer needed.

New data shows that in January more than 36,000 appointments were recorded as “did not attend” – commonly referred to as DNAs. This is where a patient fails to attend an appointment and does not cancel so it can’t be rebooked by the practice.

The NHS has created a video with a local GP, Dr Virinder Rai, to highlight the importance of letting your GP practice know in advance if you’re unable to attend an appointment. You can watch the video on YouTube here.

In many practices, appointments can be cancelled by text or online, so there’s no need to phone.

Dr Rai said: “At a time when demand on NHS services is at an all-time high, it is very important that GP appointment slots are not going to waste.

“Every appointment at a GP practice is precious and so when booked appointments are unused and not cancelled, it has a considerable impact on practices, practice staff and the availability of appointments for other patients.

“It might not seem like a big deal to miss a 10-minute appointment, but the unintended consequences are that other patients who may really need care can’t access it when they need to and are being kept waiting longer.

“We understand that sometimes things can change but please do notify your practice as soon as possible if you’re unable to attend. This will allow them to allocate your appointment to someone else, helping to ensure more people have timely access to their GP or healthcare professional.

“Given the current pressures on the NHS, it’s important that people know their GP is still open and here for them, and I would encourage anyone who needs help to continue to come forward.

“However, please help us help you by choosing the correct service for you. For any minor illnesses, your local pharmacist should be your first port of call. As well as offering free expert advice on a wide range of health issues, pharmacists can help with dispensing medicines, repeat prescriptions, and help with choosing the correct over-the-counter medicine. And, if symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, they can signpost you to the right alternative NHS service.”

To find your local pharmacy, visit the NHS website here.

Dr Lucy Martin appointed as Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands

Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, John Crabtree OBE, the King’s representative for the county, has appointed Dr Lucy Martin, as a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands, representing Dudley.

Lucy, who is Joint Acting Medical Director at Dudley Integrated Health and Care NHS Trust and a GP partner at Eve Hill Medical Practice in Dudley will support the Lord-Lieutenant and the region in this voluntary role in several ways. This includes representation at citizenship ceremonies, supporting the armed forces of the Crown, encouraging charitable and voluntary work and local initiatives to benefit the community, as well as promoting and encouraging nominations for Honours and King's Awards for the County of the West Midlands.

The West Midlands Lieutenancy comprises Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, and Wolverhampton, and was established in 1974. The appointment of Lucy as a Deputy Lieutenant will bring her expertise and experience in the healthcare industry to the role and will enhance the work of the Lieutenancy in promoting and supporting Dudley and the West Midlands.

Commenting on her appointment, Dr Lucy Martin said:

"I am honoured to have been appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands. I look forward to working to support and champion Dudley and our people."

For more information on the West Midlands Lieutenancy, visit West Midlands Lieutenancy | (

Dudley Wood Surgery to Promote Prostate Cancer Awareness Through Live Music Event

Dudley Wood Surgery will be hosting a Prostate Cancer Awareness Event on 21st March 2023 which aims to promote early detection of the disease.

The initiative which has been supported by a host of local NHS organisations as well as Prostate Cancer UK, a UK-wide charity solely focused on beating the disease, will begin at 2 pm and be attended by the Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Sue Greenaway.

The hour-long event provides attendees with the opportunity to hear music from renowned Jazz, Blues, and Gospel musician Bobby KP Woods. Bobby, who has a personal experience, will also be sharing his story and encouraging others to take action.

On the day, healthcare professionals will also be on hand. This includes Urology Specialist Nurses, who will discuss the process of checking for prostate cancer, along with Nurses from Prostate Cancer UK who will provide further information and direct people to appropriate risk checker tools.

Bobby KP Woods said:

"I want to share my story - We need to raise awareness about this disease and let men know that a quick and easy check-up can save their lives. By coming together, we can make a real difference.

“It’s no joke, I have a song which says `let’s do it in the name of love`, that’s what this is all about, helping men and giving them information that can keep them alive and well.”

According to Dr Gurmukh Kalsi, a GP at Dudley Wood Surgery:

"Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer affecting men, but with early detection and treatment, the survival rate is high. This event is an excellent opportunity to educate the community about prostate cancer and to encourage men to take care of their health."

Dr Richard Bramble, Joint Acting Medical Director at Dudley Integrated Health and Care (DIHC), said:

“The purpose of DIHC is to connect with the people of Dudley, embrace our diversity and support them to live longer, healthier lives.

“DIHC has been working with surgeries across Dudley to promote early detection and early treatment of cancer and other diseases. It is great to see Dudley Wood Surgery taking this initiative to encourage men to think about prostate cancer detection.

“There are, sadly, real inequalities between men and women in cancer detection and survival, and we’d encourage all Dudley men to think about their health and come forward whenever they get invitations for health checks, annual reviews, and bowel cancer screening. A stitch in time often saves nine!”

This event is free to attend and open to all, but with a specific focus on men aged 45 and over. Dudley Wood Surgery will remain open on the day as normal with business as usual.

For further information, please contact .

Date: Tuesday 21st March 2023

Time: 2 pm

Where: Dudley Wood Surgery, 10 Quarry Road, Dudley DY2 0EF