NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), made up of local GP practices and which plans and pays for most of the area’s healthcare, is reminding people how to access health services and prepare for the upcoming bank holidays.
As most GP surgeries will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, follow the simple tips below to help you and your family stay well over the festive period when health services are at their busiest:
1. Prepare a ‘home health kit’
Take time to restock your medicines cabinet with over-the-counter remedies, while shopping for the festive period at a supermarket or high street pharmacy. Follow our ‘home health kit’ list so you can treat common ailments without the need to leave your home.
2. Download the Health Help Now app – your pocket guide to NHS services
If you have a smartphone, download the Health Help Now app from www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net or from Google Play or the App Store. It can guide you to the best service for your symptoms, and tell you the nearest NHS services that are open during evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
3. Visit your pharmacy for advice
Your local pharmacist is a medicines expert who can advise on the best way to treat colds, coughs, sore throats, hay fever, verrucas, digestive problems and more, and you probably won’t need a prescription as many over-the-counter medicines are readily available for these conditions. Some pharmacists are open over the festive period.
At this time of year when cold weather strikes, and services are reduced over the holiday period, NHS staff are very busy treating patients who need emergency and urgent care. We can all help by thinking ahead, and taking some simple steps so that we can treat the most common ailments from the comfort of our homes.
Getting your own ‘home health kit’ ready is one suggested way of making sure your family has immediate access to a range of over-the counter-remedies and first aid essentials, and most remedies can be picked up easily from a local pharmacy or supermarket, so coughs, colds, headaches, sore throats, stomach problems and minor cuts and scrapes can be made better without having to leave your home.
Remember to store medicines out of the reach of children and always follow the instructions on the label, taking notice of the use-by date. If in doubt, ask your pharmacist or call NHS 111. You can also use the Health Help Now app to find out opening times of NHS services near you.
Essential winter bank holiday information for Dartford, Gravesend and Swanley areas
Home health kit suggestions…
- Painkillers (paracetamol and ibuprofen – including infant/child versions if you have young children)
- Throat pastilles
- Digital thermometer
- Plasters, bandages and sticking tape
- Antiseptic lotion, cream or spray
- Anti-diarrhoea tablets
- Rehydration salts
- Indigestion treatments
Health Help Now
This website and app launched by the NHS in Kent and Medway can help people find the right treatment, any time of day or night, and wherever they are in the county. It’s easy to use via your smartphone or computer, and can help identify where the nearest open pharmacy is, along with instructions on how to get there, which is ideal for evenings, weekends or bank holidays.
If you don’t have internet access or a smartphone, and need health help when it’s not an emergency, NHS 111 can give you free health advice, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can also seek advice from pharmacists and take advantage of NHS walk-in centres and minor injury units which are open most days except Christmas day.
Minor injury units and walk-in centres
Trained nurses at minor injury units (MIUs) across Kent can assess and treat cuts, sprains, minor burns, minor dislocations of the fingers and toes, minor eye injuries and remove foreign bodies from, for example, ears and noses. MIUs cannot treat babies under one year old. MIUs are open every day of the year. GP-led walk-in centres can often see you without an appointment.
Gravesham Community Hospital: Bath Street, Gravesend, DA11 0DG. Phone: 01474 360816. Open 8am to 8pm, every day of the year.
Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital: Bell Road, Sittingbourne, ME10 4DT. Phone: 01795 418300. Open 9am to 9pm, every day of the year.
Sheppey Community Hospital: Plover Road, Minster, ME12 3LT. Phone: 01795 879100. Open 9am to 9pm, every day of the year.
Walk-in centres also have health professionals that will see you without an appointment if you have an urgent concern.
GP-led Walk in Centres
Open from 8am-8pm and you don’t need an appointment to see a GP or nurse:
- White Horse GP Walk-in Centre*, Vale Road, Northfleet, Kent DA11 8BZ
Phone: 0300 0300 000. *Open every day except Christmas Day and Easter Sunday
- Medway GP Walk-in Centre, Ground floor, Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre, Balmoral Gardens, Gillingham, ME7 4PN, Phone: 01634 331177. Open 365 days of the year
- Sheppey NHS GP Walk-in Centre, Sheppey Community Hospital, Plover Road, Minster-On-Sea, Sheerness, ME12 3LT Phone: 01795 879199. Open 365 days of the year
For emergency dental care, contact your own dentist first. At evenings, weekends and bank holidays (8.30am to 1.25pm) you can call DentaLine on 01634 890300.
Mental health support
Free confidential emotional advice and guidance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from the Mental Health Matters helpline on 0800 107 0160. The Samaritans are also there to listen at any time of day or night and can be reached by dialling 116 123.
NHS Services are available 365 days a year and over the Christmas and New Year period there will be different health services open in the Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley area.
Many pharmacies are open evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Your local pharmacist is fully qualified to advise you on the best course of action and can offer expert advice and treatment for many common illnesses. Please plan-ahead and order any repeat prescriptions from your GP before the Christmas and New Year period.