People across the South West are being urged to choose the best option for healthcare this Christmas, when GP surgeries are closed.
While dialling 999 is essential for life-threatening injury or illness, there is a wide range of other help available, including:
- Minor injury units and urgent treatment centres, for less-serious accidents and illnesses
- The NHS 111 service, available online or via phone to advise on the best course of action. Patients can often be booked into appointments, including for urgent dental treatment.
- Community pharmacists, who can provide urgent advice and medication for winter ailments and do not need an appointment. Duty rotas are available on the NHS England South West website for the Christmas holiday period, when most pharmacies are closed.
Some GP practices will have appointments as usual on Saturday 24 December, but all will be closed on 25-27 December, before re-opening on the morning of Wednesday 28 December. Usual out-of-hours arrangements will apply.
NHS England’s Medical Director for the South West, Dr Michael Marsh, said: “The NHS continues to face great pressure, especially with rising rates of flu, covid and other infections, so please make sure you make the right choice if you need urgent care over Christmas.
“Most illnesses can be safely treated at home, or with advice from your local pharmacy, but there’s a wide range of options if you need further help.
“And if you’re unsure where to go, NHS 111 is there to help, whether online or on the phone.
“You can also help ease pressure by making sure your relatives can get home as quickly as possible if they’re in hospital and staff say they’re ready to go.”
Ade Williams, Lead Prescribing Pharmacist at Bedminster pharmacy, said: “Don’t forget to collect your prescriptions and stock up on emergency medicines from your pharmacy before they close for Christmas.
“However, some pharmacies will be open over the holiday period, so please check the NHS England South West website to find a local pharmacy that can provide urgent help and advice over the holiday period.”
Text “SHOUT” to 85258 for free from all major UK mobile networks. You will be connected to a volunteer for an anonymous conversation by text message, under a scheme run by the Mental Health Innovations charity.
People can help ease pressure on hospitals by making sure their relatives can get home as quickly as possible once staff say they are ready to go.