Guide to local NHS services available over Christmas and New Year
Local residents are being urged to use NHS services wisely and ensure they choose the right service for their illness or injury over the Christmas and New Year break.
Here you can find information on what you can do to stay well, what local services are available and how to contact the NHS if you need to. You can also download the booklet that provides further advice and information and on local services and support to help you stay well over winter or go to the How to stay well in winter page on the NHS website.
Self care (look after yourself)
Stock up on essential over-the-counter medicines to treat common conditions at home such as colds, sore throats, upset stomachs and aches and pains. Most of these medicines are available at low cost from your local pharmacy or from most supermarkets, with no GP appointment or prescription required.
This will not only help save you time but will help to ease pressures on your local NHS services.
Medicine box essentials include:
- painkillers such as aspirin, paracetamol, and ibuprofen
- anti-diarrhoea tablets and rehydration powders
- indigestion treatment
- bandages and plasters
- antiseptic cream or spray
- first aid kit
NHS App or NHS website
The NHS App is a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone or tablet. The NHS App is available free to download on Google Play and Apple app stores. You can use the NHS App to:
- check your symptoms
- get health advice and information on local services
- get your NHS COVID pass
- order repeat prescriptions
You can also find information about how to manage your health and wellbeing on the NHS website at www.nhs.uk. Here you will find a symptom checker, local service info, mental health support and the latest COVID-19 advice.
Pharmacies offer expert advice and treatment for a range of things including coughs and colds, aches and pains, allergies, emergency contraception, and non-prescription medication.
All pharmacists are part of your local NHS services, they train for a minimum of five years, and are experts in medicines use and providing health and wellbeing advice.
Pharmacies are open across the area during Christmas and New Year, including some being open on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day.
General opening times for pharmacies are on the NHS UK website.
If you have an urgent but not life-threatening medical need, visit NHS 111 online first. NHS 111 online will help you right away and, if needed, a healthcare professional will call you.
You can use the NHS 111 service online at 111.nhs.uk or you can call 111, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your symptoms will be assessed, and you will be given healthcare advice. The trained advisors will assess you and find a local service that is right for your symptoms. That could be a pharmacy, GP or practice nurse, minor injuries unit or urgent care centre. NHS 111 can even make you a timed appointment at A&E if you are assessed as needing treatment there.
Mental health support
If you need urgent mental health support, call 111 and chose 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.
Please check your website practice for their specific opening hours and information about extended access services over the Christmas and New Year period. If you have an urgent medical concern when your GP is closed use the NHS111 service.
Minor Injury Units (MIU) and Urgent Treatment Centres (UTC)
Urgent Treatment Centres (UTC) are open seven days a week and can treat a range of minor illnesses and injuries such as sprains and strains, broken bones, minor burns and scalds, minor head and eye injuries, bites and stings.
Opening hours over the Christmas and New Year period are as follows:
Hemel Hempstead Urgent Treatment Centre, Hemel Hempstead Hospital, Hillfield Road, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP2 4AD
Open 8am to 10pm every day including public holidays.
Watford Urgent Treatment Centre, Watford General Hospital, Vicarage Road, Watford, Herts, WD18 0HB
Open 8am to 2am every day including public holidays.
Dental emergency and out-of-hours care
If you think you need urgent care, contact your usual dentist as some practices offer emergency dental slots and will provide care if necessary. You can also call NHS 111, who can put you in touch with an urgent dental service.