GPs in north east London are reminding people that choosing the right place for medical help over the Christmas holidays can help you get the treatment you need faster.
The festive period is one of the busiest times of the year for local health services, so it is important to remember there are a number of ways to get advice and support from the NHS.
This includes visiting your local pharmacy for help treating coughs, colds and other minor ailments, and visiting NHS 111 online or contacting your GP surgery if you have health concerns.
Over the festive period, people in north east London (NEL) have a number of healthcare options:
- Pharmacy – Many common illnesses, such as coughs or colds, can be most easily treated by visiting your local pharmacy where you can seek help without making an appointment. Pharmacists are trained medical professionals who can offer advice and over-the-counter treatments, or direct you to the right person if you need to see someone else. If you are taking prescription medication, order enough to last you over the Christmas holidays. However, some community pharmacies will also be open on the festive bank holidays. You can find a local pharmacy on the NHS website here. Antibiotics do not work on winter viruses such as colds and flu, so do not ask for them.
- GP appointments – You can get an urgent appointment with a GP in NEL from 8am to 8pm on all of the bank holidays, including Christmas day. This includes Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Hackney and the City of London. GP appointments are available every weekday evening from 6.30pm to 10pm (8pm in Hackney and City of London), and from 8am to 8pm on weekends and bank holidays.
- If you live in the City of London, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest or Newham, you can book these appointments by calling your own GP practice as usual during working hours or by calling NHS 111 when it is closed.
- If you live in Barking and Dagenham, Havering or Redbridge (BHR), you can book these appointments by calling the GP hubs booking hotline on 020 3770 1888 (open from 8am-8pm) or by calling NHS 111 at any time, seven days a week.
- In BHR, you can also get help with minor injuries and illnesses at the community urgent treatment centres at Barking Community Hospital and Harold Wood Polyclinic from 8am to 9pm, seven days a week. You can call 111 to book an appointment or walk in and wait to be seen. You do not need to be registered with a GP.
- NHS 111 service – If you have an urgent but not life-threatening medical need, make sure you visit NHS 111 online. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including bank holidays, NHS 111 will help you right away and, if needed, a healthcare professional will call you. If you cannot use the internet, call 111. Trained advisors can also book you an appointment at an urgent treatment centre, emergency dental service, or with a GP, and can even book you an appointment at an emergency department (A&E) if necessary. In case of a life-threatening emergency, you can visit an emergency department or call 999 for an ambulance.
Dr Mark Rickets, a local GP and clinical lead for primary care at NHS North East London Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We understand that during the holidays, you or a family member can sometimes need an urgent appointment with a GP or nurse outside normal working hours.
“This year we’re offering flexible appointments across evenings, weekends and bank holidays, including Christmas day. With the Omicron variant causing understandable concern, we are continuing to work in a way that ensures everyone is kept safe from Covid-19 but please rest assured you will be properly assessed and, if required, seen face-to-face.”
For more information and advice on accessing NHS services in NEL this winter, please visit northeastlondonccg.nhs.uk/urgentcare
Covid-19 vaccinations are also available every day across NEL over the festive period and provide vital extra protection against the virus – including the more contagious Omicron variant. Over eight out of 10 people in intensive care with Covid-19 in local hospitals in NEL are not fully vaccinated.
We are vaccinating those aged 12 and above with first and second doses, and everyone aged 18 and above with first, second and booster doses at all of our local vaccination sites in NEL. For more information, visit the North East London Health and Care Partnership website. Under current public health guidance, anyone attending a GP surgery, hospital or healthcare setting is asked to comply with anti-covid measures and wear a face covering at all times. Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19, or with a confirmed case in their household, should follow government guidance and should not attend a GP surgery, hospital or healthcare setting.