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Health and Care Services over Christmas and New Year


The health and social care system is encouraging everyone to look after themselves, both physically and mentally over the Christmas and New Year period.

As we head into the holidays, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) together with the five Health and Social Care Trusts, GPs, pharmacists and dentists, want to assure everyone that arrangements are in place should you or a member of your family become ill or have an accident over the Christmas and the New Year holiday period.

If you feel unwell, it is also important, to choose the service most appropriate to your symptoms, so you can get better quicker.

Self-care is the best choice to treat most minor illnesses, ailments and injuries.  A range of common illnesses such as aches and pains, colds, upset stomachs and sore throats can be treated with over the counter medicines and plenty of rest.

Online symptom checker

Self-care is the best choice to treat most minor illnesses, ailments and injuries.  A range of common illnesses such as aches and pains, colds and upset stomachs can be treated with over the counter medicines and plenty of rest. You can find information about a range of common illnesses by using the symptom checker on nidirect.

Pharmacy opening hours over Christmas and New Year

Pharmacies operate a rota arrangement over Christmas and New Year. You can search by the town closest to you here.

This year, the Pharmacy First service is being offered at participating community pharmacies. The Pharmacy First service is a winter initiative by the health service which enables patients to have a consultation virtually or in a private area with their local community pharmacist.

Pharmacists can offer advice and treatment for common conditions, recommend treatment and refer patients to other healthcare professionals as appropriate.

GP opening hours over Christmas and New Year

GP practices will offer additional same day urgent clinical triage consultations, remaining open at lunch time with no half day closures for the working week over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

Contact your GP on the usual numbers.

GP practices will be closed on: Monday 27th December 2021, Tuesday 28th December 2021 and Monday 3rd January 2022

GP out of hours

This service is for urgent medical care when your GP surgery is closed. Find your local service here.

Minor injury units

This service is for can treat injuries that are not critical or life threatening such as:

Some Minor Injuries Units are operating a Phone First service. Check your local service here before you attend.

Emergency Departments

Emergency Departments provide the highest level of emergency care for patients, especially those with sudden and acute illness or severe trauma. Some Emergency Departments are operating a Phone First service. Check your local hospital to see if this service is offered.

For all emergencies that are life threatening, always call 999 immediately. This can include: Stroke, heart attack, loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or major trauma.

Out of hours Dental Services

For out of hours urgent dental problems, patients should ring their own dental practice in the first instance.  If they are not registered with a dentist, they should contact a local dental practice.  Dentists will have arrangements in place to offer advice, prescription for pain relief, or referral to an Urgent Dental Care Centre if necessary.

Urgent Dental Care Centres will operate morning clinics from 25th December 2021 to 28th December 2021 and from 1st Jan 2022 to 3rd Jan 2022 on a referral basis only.

Urgent eye care

If you have an urgent eye problem during the holiday period please contact your local Optometrist in the first instance. If your Optometry practice is closed and your eye problem is very urgent and cannot wait until normal opening hours, please contact your nearest hospital Emergency Department. Eye conditions requiring emergency attention could include pain or loss of vision following recent eye surgery, sudden loss of vision of less than six hours duration, acute trauma or chemical injury, or sudden-onset double vision.

Out of hours Regional Emergency Social Work Service

This service is for genuine emergencies that cannot wait until the next working day.

Regional Emergency Social Work Service 028 9504 9999.

Mental health emergency

For mental health emergencies, call Lifeline free, in confidence, 24/7 on 0808 808 8000.

Resources are also available for COVID-19 related mental health and wellbeing