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NHS says ‘Help us, Help You’ over Christmas and New Year

The local NHS is reassuring residents that can still access health help throughout the Christmas and New Year period – but health leaders are also encouraging patients to use services wisely.

Health services will continue to be available across west Hertfordshire. Anyone who needs medical assistance is being encouraged to seek help and not put off their concerns.

·       GP practices are working together to provide services for patients on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Please do call your GP surgery where you will hear a voicemail message explaining how to contact your nearest GP extended access hub, if you need the help of a GP or Nurse

·       A number of pharmacies will be open for a few hours on each public holiday. Pharmacists can offer trusted advice on a range of issues whether it’s a cough or managing a long-term condition and can sell low cost medicines to relieve your symptoms. They are highly trained and will tell you if something needs more urgent medical attention. For pharmacy opening times over the festive period, please go to https://www.england.nhs.uk/east-of-england/nhs-england-and-nhs-improvement-east-of-englands-work/pharmacy-information/

·       Hertfordshire’s NHS 111 service is available by phone and online every hour of the day, every day of the year. 111 should be your ‘go to’ service when other services are closed or if you’re not sure what sort of help you need. Go online to www.111.nhs.uk or call 111 for help and advice before leaving home. If you’re assessed as needing an appointment, the 111 team can book you an appointment with a GP or your nearest emergency department or urgent care centre.

·       If you need urgent mental health support call 111 and select option 2 to speak to specially trained staff. The Mental Health Helpline provided by Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust (HPFT) is also available 24/7 via Freephone 0800 6444 101. If you would rather speak to a mental health professional online rather than by phone, you can use the webchat service, www.hpft.nhs.uk, from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday.

·       If you have COVID-19 symptoms, testing sites across Hertfordshire will be open every day over Christmas and New Year so that you can still get a test quickly and easily. To book, please go online to www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119 if you are not comfortable using the booking website.

Dr Nicolas Small, Chair of Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We know that Christmas is going to be challenging for lots of people but we don’t want people to struggle with their health or to put off getting help – with the risk that they may become more unwell by waiting.

“Just as the NHS continues to be here to support people in lots of different ways over Christmas we also equally want people to support the NHS by using our services wisely. Our hospitals are particularly busy at the moment looking after Covid-19 patients on top of the usual seasonal demands. Most of all we want people to use their GP and pharmacy services for minor illnesses and to use the 111 service before travelling to A&E or other services. If you need urgent treatment the new 111 appointment service is the best way of getting help in a timely manner.”

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