Your guide to NHS advice and support this holiday season

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If you need over the counter medicines, to fill a prescription or seek advice on mental or physical health conditions, there are a number of NHS services available to you over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Pharmacists are registered healthcare professionals who can offer advice on a range of minor ailments and signpost you to the right care in the case of more serious health conditions. Community pharmacists are often open outside GP practice hours and a number in the area are open on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day too. If you are a parent and have a smartphone or tablet computer, you don’t even need to leave the house to get advice from healthcare professionals – the local NHS is offering a brand new free childhood illness app for both Android and Apple devices that guides you through looking after many common ailments for children at home, with advice on what to do if there are signs of a more serious condition.

Paula Wilkinson, Chief Pharmacist for NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Over the holidays it’s important to know what services are available and the ones that are most appropriate for any illness you or your family might have. You can usually be seen faster by a community pharmacist for minor ailments than your GP surgery as winter conditions often leave GPs very busy at this time of year.”

You can find more information about the Mid Essex Child Health app and download links at Adults can access similar advice through the NHS website at Everyone can also access advice by calling 111.

Holiday health services include GP appointments every day of the holiday, including the bank holidays. This is part of the CCG’s Extended Access Scheme, which offers extra GP and nurse appointments 365 days a year.

You can find out more about the scheme on the Mid Essex CCG website. You can book Extended Access appointments in advance at one of four hubs in mid Essex through your own GP surgery or, when they are already closed, by calling 111. (Please note, there is no walk-in service at the hubs.)

There can be more than just physical health needs at Christmas, though. The holidays are a stressful time for many people and our new online mental health service at can give you a range of tools to help you cope. If you need immediate support, you can call the local mental health crisis line on 0330 726 0130 or the Samaritans, free, on 116 123.

And if you have a family member who is showing signs of dementia, you can get advice and support at any stage, before or after they have been diagnosed, by calling our Dementia Intensive Support Service (or DISS) on 01245 515 313 available between 9am and 5pm.

Anyone, whether a member of the public, care home worker or healthcare professional, can call the number to access one-stop dementia services.

Click here to download the Pharmacy opening times and Extended Access hub hours.