The Department of Health is encouraging everyone to look after themselves, both physically and mentally over the holidays.
A spokesperson said: “As we head into the holidays, the health and social care system including 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.”
The Department has outlined a range of healthcare services available such as community pharmacies, the Phone First service, minor injuries units, GPs and NIPEARS participating optometry practices for eye problems.
Mild or minor illness
If you have a mild or minor illness, you can find information about a range of common illnesses using the nidirect 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, upset stomachs and sore throats can be treated with over the counter medicines and plenty of rest.
In the event of a life-threatening emergency, always dial 999.
The Emergency Department should only be used for sudden and acute illness or severe trauma.
Always remember to order your repeat prescriptions prior to your GP practice closing for the holidays.
Your community pharmacist 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 – search for GP contact details here.
GP practices will be closed on: Monday, December 26; Tuesday, December 27 and Monday, January 2.
GP out of hoursThis service is for urgent medical care when your GP surgery is closed. Find your local GP out of hours service here.
Minor injuries units
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 bites – human, animal and insect burns and scalds abscesses and wound infections minor head injuries broken noses and nosebleeds foreign bodies in the eyes and nose
Some minor injuries units are operating a Phone First service. Check your local service here before you attend.
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. The practice will outline their out-of-hours arrangements or advise you to contact the Emergency Dental Clinic directly.
If they are not registered with a dentist, they should contact a local dental practice. Further information on Emergency Dental Services can be found here: online.hscni.net/our-work/dental-services/out-of-hours-emergency-dental-treatment/
Emergency Dental Clinics (EDCs)
Patients can only normally only contact EDCs on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Over the Christmas and New Year holidays the EDCs will operate on the following dates:
Saturday, December 24
Sunday, December 25
Monday, December 26
Tuesday, December 27
Saturday, December 31
Sunday, January 1
Monday, January 2
Telephone: 028 2566 3510 (Telephone lines are open from 8.00am to 12 noon)
Telephone calls will be directed to a dentist for triage and if deemed clinically necessary, advice or treatment at an EDC will be provided for the following dental conditions:
Dental swelling (spreading infection) Trauma to teeth arising from an external force Uncontrolled bleeding following extraction. Severe dental pain not controlled by over the counter medications
Please note – as there is high demand for out-of-hours appointments patients may have to travel outside their area for treatment slots.
Patients should not attend any site without an arranged appointment.
Urgent eye care
If you have an urgent eye problem during the holiday period, please contact your local pptometrist 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.
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 self-help guides and ways to access help to support your mental health and wellbeing go to Community Wellbeing NI.