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Stay Well – if you need to use health and care services over Christmas and the New Year


The Health and Social Care Board and the Public Health Agency together with the five Health and Social Care Trusts, local GPs, pharmacists and dentists have been working to ensure that local people have access to urgent care services over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. The following health and care arrangements will be in place should you or a member of your family become ill or have an accident.

As part of the Stay Well This Winter campaign, we are encouraging everyone to look after themselves and take actions that will help them stay well this winter. This includes ordering any repeat prescriptions well in advance of the long holiday weekends.

If you feel unwell, there are a range of healthcare services available to help you.   These range from self-care/pharmacy for minor ailments; GP services; Minor Injury Units and Emergency Services.   It is also important to choose the service most appropriate to your symptoms, so you can get better quicker. It will also help the health and social care services make the most of finite resources.

Self-care is the best choice to treat minor illnesses, ailments and injuries. You can find information about a range of common illnesses such as aches and pains, coughs, colds, upset stomachs and sore throats using the new symptom checker.  Remember, most of these can be treated with over the counter medicines and plenty of rest and whether treated or not, most of these will get better.

Hospital Emergency Departments provide the highest level of emergency care for patients.  We would ask the public to assist us in ensuring Emergency Departments are used appropriately, and only for urgent conditions such as a suspected heart attack or stroke, serious head injury or serious accident.  This helps ensure that the sickest patients can get the care that they need.

Information on how to use your health services can be found at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/stay-well


Your local pharmacist can provide confidential, expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses and complaints. The Health and Social Care Board has been working closely with local pharmacists to draw up holiday pharmacy rota arrangements. Visit the BSO’s Pharmacy Rota page to check which pharmacies are open during the holidays in your area.

Repeat Prescription Medications

Please remember to order and collect any essential repeat prescription medications from your daytime GP surgery in advance of the holiday period.

Out of hours GP Service

The GP out of hours service is available if you require urgent medical care when your daytime GP surgery is closed. Remember to telephone the service first. The GP out of hours service will be operating for all GP Practices from 6.00pm on Friday 22nd December 2017 until Practices open at 8.30am on Wednesday 27th December 2017 over Christmas period and 6.00pm on Friday 29th December 2017 until Practices open at 8.30am on Tuesday 2nd January 2018.

Out of hours Dental Services

Details of dental services will be displayed at dental surgeries or can be obtained by contacting your dentist. For out of hours urgent dental problems, you should contact your dental surgery or read – Out of  hours emergency dental treatment

Out of hours Emergency Social Work Service

The out of hours Emergency Social Work Service is available outside normal office hours and on weekends, Bank Holidays and Public Holidays for genuine emergencies that cannot wait until the next working day.

You can contact the Regional Emergency Social Work Service on 028 9504 9999.

Minor Injuries Unit

A minor injuries unit can treat injuries that are not critical or life threatening, such as injuries to upper and lower limbs, broken bones, sprains, bruises and wounds, burns and scalds, bites, cuts and wounds and eye injuries.  Further details about the service including locations and opening hours

Emergency Departments

Emergency Departments provide the highest level of emergency care for patients, especially those with sudden and acute illness or severe trauma. Normal Emergency Department services will be operating throughout the holiday period as usual. The service is for those in need of emergency treatment and you can check waiting times to be treated on nidirect’s ED waiting time page..

As always, the emergency ambulance service will be there if you need it. Always dial 999 when there is a risk to life or of serious injury. But, if your call is not an emergency, then please use the most appropriate service and help keep the 999 system clear for life threatening emergencies. Remember, you could risk a life if you tie up an emergency line for a non-emergency call. Your call could delay someone with a real emergency. Keep emergency lines free.

Lifeline Crisis Response

If you, or someone you know, is in distress or despair, no matter what your age or where you live in Northern Ireland, Lifeline is here to help you. Lifeline counsellors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen and give you the help and support you need, in confidence.

Tel: 0808 808 8000


The Health and Social Care Service would like to wish you a safe and healthy Christmas and New Year.