STAYCATIONS across the country are becoming increasingly popular this year after the Covid-19 pandemic, with more families opting to travel the UK rather than abroad.

After months of worry, uncertainty and being encouraged to stay at home, this will be a welcome distraction for most. Tourism is slowly starting to increase back to pre-pandemic levels, with North Wales becoming the hottest place to visit, it is certainly good news for the economy.

However, strains on the NHS and medical services are real and with increased tourism, there are worries that this could become tighter as we head into the winter months.

The Leader has previously reported that people are facing long waiting times for an ambulance and pressures on A&E are increasing. The winter period is also looking particularly bleak as the public is being urged to play their part to help ease the burden.

Suggestions have been made that holiday parks could be affiliated with their own GP surgery, which could prevent visitors attending already stretched practises and hospital departments in North Wales.

Dawn Marsh, at Lyons Holiday Park, said: “We’ve been away before and needed to go to the doctor and we’ve had to travel home. It’s cost us a fortune.

“It’s a good shout not just for doctor’s surgeries, but dental practices too.

“If you’re on holiday and have a dental abscess and need antibiotics, what do you do? I was a dental nurse for 15 years and saw it loads in my profession – holidaymakers needing an emergency dentist and not being able to get one.”

Claire Harding from Liverpool agreed: “I think having a doctor’s surgery on park is a great idea. We’re owners here and we’ve been to Prestatyn Lach, where you either have to go first thing in the morning, ring 111, or go to a walk-in – but there are no walk-ins in North Wales.

“My little lad had tonsillitis once while we were here, and he got sorted, but if we were holidaymakers, we wouldn’t know where to go. They could really do with this here. If you’re with someone who’s always ill, or needs repeat prescriptions, this could be so much easier.”

Sandra Jones from Manchester added: “This would definitely make our lives easier. We had an accident on site once with one of our children, and we had to be seen. We rushed to Bodelwyddan Hospital where there was a 5 hour wait, and it was only because she was a child that she was seen so fast.

“There’s so many kids on this park and on holiday in North Wales, so affiliating holiday parks with doctors surgeries would be so much easier.”

Lyons Holiday Parks, which has sites across North Wales, has seen a boom in tourism since the majority of restrictions were eased – a far cry from March 2020.

Speaking about whether holiday parks require their own GP, Lyons Group sales manager Michelle McKelvie said there is not currently a need to take a medical profession out of a practise when the majority of accidents can be seen by a first aider.

She said anything more serious needs to go to A&E.

She added: “I think there’s a need for perhaps a more fluid arrangement between doctor’s surgeries in Wales and England, as the majority of our guests do come from across the border.

“Especially with things such as emergency medication if someone’s ran out or left their tablets at home, perhaps an online portal where they can login and see their prescription in order to show a chemist in North Wales would make lives easier.

“Or perhaps walk-in surgeries where any tourist can walk in during the day. But there’s too many grey areas when it comes to actual GP surgeries at holiday parks as those people who would need to be seen would be registered at their home address – and we’re a residential park, so even owners are unable to register their caravans as a primary address in order to access local healthcare.

“The national need is greater than the tourism sector at the moment. Considering the number of holiday parks between Flintshire and Conwy, affiliating doctor’s surgeries with parks would more than double the medical workforce and put unnecessary pressure on surgeries.”

The Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board has reached out to people visiting North Wales after seeing a significant increase in visitors, urging people to know what services they require when they need it.

Dr Chris Stockport, Executive Director of Primary and Community Care, said: “We are well used to seeing a significant increase in visitors to North Wales during the summer months and dealing with the additional pressures this inevitably places on healthcare services.

“We are continuing to work with holiday camps, tourism operators, hoteliers and businesses in the hospitality industry to highlight the ways that visitors can access the most appropriate NHS services for their needs. This includes the 111 phone number and website, as well as Minor Injury Units and Community Pharmacies, which can provide expert advice and guidance about treating common ailments, conditions and their symptoms. We also encourage visitors who take regular medication to bring this with them on holiday.

“Those holidaying in the region are able to register as a temporary resident with a GP practice in the area in which they are staying, but they should only consider doing this if their needs cannot be met through the 111 service, Community Pharmacy or a Minor Injury Unit.”