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Help us to help you this Christmas

Your local NHS is urging people not to forget about their health as they prepare for Christmas this year.

NHS Blackburn with Darwen and NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the organisations which plans the health services in this area, is reminding people that the NHS is still under considerable pressure as a result of Covid-19, and that they can help by planning ahead and taking care of their health.

This includes simple things like remembering to order any repeat prescriptions early, booking a flu and Covid jab if you’re eligible and knowing where to go for any urgent care needs over the festive period too.    

Dr Mark Dziobon, Medical Director at the CCGs, said: “In the lead up to Christmas Day, many of us are busy buying last-minute presents and planning for family gatherings - but thinking about your health now could help ensure a much more relaxing Christmas.

“If you take any medicine on a regular basis to help manage a long-term condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma – now is the time to check that you have enough medication left to last you throughout Christmas and New Year. Don’t risk being caught short over the bank holidays, when your GP practice will be closed. Make sure that you leave enough time to order and collect any repeat prescriptions before Christmas Eve.

“People should aim to order any repeat prescriptions at least one working week before Christmas Eve, to give a GP practice time to authorise the request, and a pharmacy time to order and dispense the medication.

“No one wants to get ill over Christmas, but it’s really important to make sure that you know where to go for urgent health advice and treatment over the festive period in case you or a loved one does become unwell - particularly over the bank holidays when GP practices will be closed.”

The NHS is advising people to contact NHS 111 in the first instance – by visiting 111.nhs.uk online or calling 111 unless it is a 999 emergency.

NHS 111 can help direct people to the most appropriate local health service if they aren’t sure where to go – this could include an out of hours GP, a pharmacy, or a hospital Urgent Care/Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.

Dr Mark Dziobon adds, “Don’t forget that there’s lots of other things you can do to help prevent illness over Christmas, such as visiting a community pharmacy for advice on home remedies for managing minor health problems at home and getting your free flu as soon as possible if you’re eligible for one.

Dr Dziobon also advises how you can stay safe and reduce the spread of Covid. He said: “With Omicron levels rising exponentially throughout the country, I’d also really encourage anyone to ensure they have their Covid booster once eligible, or their first and second vaccines.

“Everyone over the age of 12 now can get vaccinated against COVID-19 – please book your appointment now. In addition: 

  • meet people outside if possible;
  • open doors and windows to let in fresh air if meeting people inside;
  • wear a face covering where required;
  • limit the number of people you meet and avoid crowded places.
  • wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day.”

GP practices will be open until 24 December (Christmas Eve) but will be closed over the Christmas weekend and bank holidays from the 25th to the 28th December, and again over New Year from the 1st to the 3rd January 2022. They will open as normal on the 29th, 30th and 31st December.

Some pharmacies will be open in your area throughout the Christmas period. Visit www.nhs.uk to find a pharmacy that’s open near you.

If you or someone you know needs urgent mental health support, you can access help at any time from Mind Lancashire’s specialist mental health services here.

You can also find lots more helpful health advice and support at: www.nhs.uk