The NHS is urging people in Swindon and Wiltshire to arrange medication that they need for the Easter bank holiday weekend well in advance of the break.

It says the break will see most pharmacies close at the end of Thursday, March 28 and not reopen until Tuesday, April 2 and residents should ensure plenty of time for processing and collection of orders.

The urgent warning comes after Christmas and New Year saw high numbers of people using the urgent care services to ask for emergency prescriptions, say the NHS.

Going without regular medication, even for a day or two, can put a person’s health and wellbeing at significant risk, and could potentially result in them needing rapid medical attention.

Gill May, Chief Nurse of Bath & North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: “Letting medicines run out, especially at a time when many pharmacies are closed, not only adds pressure to an already-busy health and care system, but puts people, many of whom are vulnerable, at a much greater risk of falling ill.

“We want everybody in our region to enjoy the long Easter weekend safely, which is why we’re making this plea – for people to get their prescriptions in well ahead of time – much earlier than usual.”

She added that if people will request repeat prescriptions this week, they should be ready to collect with two weeks to spare.

Most people can now order their repeat prescriptions digitally, either through the NHS App, which can be downloaded for free on to any smartphone or tablet, or via the website of their GP practice. 

Recent data shows that the number of people downloading the NHS App locally has surged in the last few weeks, which it says indicates a positive shift towards more patients beginning to independently manage their own health and wellbeing. 

Patients can sign up to the digital features of their practice’s website letting them order prescriptions, view test results and, in some cases, book appointments.

This can be done by speaking to the team at their surgery directly.

A small number of pharmacies across the region will be open over the weekend for urgent prescriptions.

Opening times will be shared on or on the social media of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board.