The NHS in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) has published advice for local people about how to use NHS services over the Christmas and New Year period, when some opening hours may change. In addition, the British Medical Association (BMA) has announced further junior doctors’ strike dates, which fall either side of the festive period, and will have a further impact on services at an already busy time.
Junior doctors are expected to be on strike for three days from 7am on Wednesday 20 December to 7am on Saturday 23 December, and then for six days from 7am on Wednesday 3 January to 7am on Tuesday 9 January.
Dr Nil Sanganee, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland said: “Getting in the know about how to use NHS services is particularly important at this time of year when services tend to be busier, but even more so this year with the additional impact of the Junior Doctors’ strikes. Much of our advice applies all year round but it is really important that you remind yourself now about the services to use and avoid putting the NHS under any unnecessary pressure by enjoying the festive period safely, limiting the spread of any illnesses and managing any existing health conditions well.
“Even if services are busy and you need medical help, the NHS is here for you so don’t delay coming forward, or the problem could become more serious. Continue to attend any planned medical appointments. If an appointment needs to be rescheduled during strike days, the NHS will let you know.”
Order your repeat prescriptions by 18 December
Anyone who takes prescribed medication regularly is asked to get prepared and make sure they have enough to last well into the New Year. Any repeat prescriptions need to be ordered by Monday 18th December to ensure GP practices and pharmacies have time to process the requests before Christmas. Last minute requests put a strain on services and you risk not being able to get hold of your medication. You can order repeat prescriptions using the NHS App, through an online service offered by your GP practice or by contacting your GP practice directly.
Get support to treat minor illnesses yourself
People who are generally in good health, can treat viruses such as coughs, colds, and sore throats themselves with advice from a local pharmacy, NHS 111 online or the NHS App. Local community pharmacists are qualified health professionals and can give advice on a range of health problems. If they think you need to see a doctor or other health professional, they can advise you on how to get further support.
Bank holiday opening times for pharmacists in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are available at: NHS England — Midlands » Bank Holiday pharmacy opening times.
GP practices’ normal opening hours are Monday to Friday from 8am to 6:30pm, excluding bank holidays, which means they will be closed on Christmas Day (Monday 25 December), Boxing Day (Tuesday 26 December) and New Year’s Day (Monday 1 January). Normal service will resume on Tuesday 2 January. GP practices are not affected by the junior doctors’ strikes and will be open as normal on strike days.
Where they can, people are encouraged to use the NHS App to make requests from their GP practice at a convenient time for them. It can be used to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view their health record and hospital correspondence.
If you need urgent help
Anyone who has an urgent care need should seek help straight away. If your GP practice is closed, you can contact NHS 111 online, by phone or via the NHS App at any time, day or night. They will review your symptoms and will refer you to the most appropriate service based on your needs. They can even book an appointment or arrival time at local urgent care services to keep your waiting time to a minimum.
The 999 service and hospital emergency departments should only be used for an urgent, life threatening, medical situation, where emergency assistance is required.
Mental health support
The Mental Health Central Access Point is a phoneline for people who need urgent mental health support. It can be reached on 0808 800 3302. This will be open as normal over Christmas and New Year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
In addition to the Mental Health Central Access Point, support is also available for your mental health and wellbeing through the Neighbourhood Mental Health Cafes. To find out what is open and when, please visit https://www.leicspart.nhs.uk/service/neighbourhood-mh-cafes/.
Get in the know about which service to use
‘Get in the Know’ is an ongoing campaign which aims to support people across LLR to get the right care as quickly as possible. The campaign website www.getintheknow.co.uk explains more about how to use NHS services, including over the festive period.