How to access urgent healthcare support this Christmas and New Year
With the Christmas and New Period coming up, some services may be closed on the bank holidays.
However, there continues to be a range of NHS services and support available to help with a range of minor, urgent and emergency conditions.
Dr Geeta Iyer, Local GP and Clinical Lead for Primary Care Development at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire ICB, said:
“We hope everyone has a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year, but if you do need medical help, there is always NHS support here for you.
“There’s lots of self-care information on the ICB website for those common winter illnesses and if you do need to get expert help, pharmacies, minor injuries units, GPs and more are available throughout the festive period.
“We know that this time of year can be really challenging for our mental health too. If you’re struggling, please reach out for help.”
As health and care services continue to be under pressure, a new video, featuring Dr Iyer is also available to help people choose the best service for their needs.
Healthcare options this Christmas and New Year:
- Self-care: Be prepared for very minor conditions by stocking up on home medicine essentials – paracetamol or aspirin, antihistamines for allergic reactions, indigestion remedies and a basic first aid kit for example. There is also online advice on a range of common winter illnesses from local pharmacists on the ICB website.
- Handi App: Parents of young children can consult the Handi App for advice to care for children. The app has been developed by paediatric consultants and provides access to home care plans, as well as GP and hospital clinical guidelines, for the most common childhood health care conditions. Search for “Handi App” on Google Play or iTunes.
- Pharmacists: Pharmacists provide expert, confidential advice and treatment for minor ailments as well as advising on repeat medication, contraception and sexual health. Most are open throughout the festive period, and some are open on bank holidays. Find your local pharmacy.
- NHS 111: The NHS 111 service is available 24 hours a day by phone, or online at nhs.uk. If you have an urgent but not life-threatening medical need, or need to contact a GP when you practice is closed, make sure you contact NHS 111 first rather than going straight to A&E. NHS 111 will help you right away and, if needed, a healthcare professional will call you.
- GPs: Most GPs will be open between Christmas and New Year and you can continue to contact them as normal outside of the bank holidays. They may be focusing on urgent appointments during this time, so please be prepared to wait longer for routine care.
- Minor Injuries: Minor Injuries Units (MIU) and Urgent Treatment Centres treat less serious injuries such as cuts and grazes, sprains and strains and trips and falls. Services are open in Yate, South Bristol and Clevedon throughout the holiday period; see the ICB website for details. Note that Clevedon MIU will be open 10am-6pm on Christmas Day, with last admissions at 5.30pm.
- Mental health support: One in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem at some point that affects their daily life, relationships or physical health. There are a range of support services available locally to support individual needs, visit the ICB website for more information.
- 999 & A&E: 999 services and A&E services are available 24 hours a day for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, chest pain, strokes or breathing difficulties. If it’s not life threatening, but still urgent, contact NHS 111 instead.