UK Government

Department of Health: Where to go for NHS services over the Festive Season

Press Release   •   Dec 24, 2009 10:04 GMT


A wide range of services are available over the Christmas and New Year holiday for people needing to access NHS care in England, Health Minister Gillian Merron said today.

Whilst most GP surgeries are closed over the bank holiday period, many NHS services will be operating as normal including,

·  GP Health Centres;

·  GP out-of-hours services;

·  walk-in centres and some minor injuries units;

·  NHS Direct;

·  dental out-of-hours services;

·  pharmacies; and

·  A&E and ambulance services for emergencies.

Health Minister Gillian Merron said:

“The NHS offers a range of emergency and non-emergency services over this period, but people are not always sure how to access these services.

“For emergencies, always call 999. For less urgent matters, it is important to be aware of the choice of local NHS non-emergency services available including GP Health Centres, walk in centres, minor injuries units, GP out-of-hours services and pharmacies. For over the phone advice people can call NHS Direct 24 hours a day as usual.”

GP out-of-hours services are available when the GP surgery is closed. To contact the out-of-hours service, call your GP surgery at anytime - night or day - for information and contact details.

Alternatively, patients can go to one of the 117 GP Health Centres open across the country.  Each centre is open from 8am until 8pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and offers any member of the public walk-in services, and bookable appointments with nurses and GPs.

Patients can drop in to an NHS walk-in centre for access to treatment and advice without the need to register or make an appointment. There are currently over 90 walk-in centres across England, from Bristol to Westminster, most are open 365 days a year from 7am to 10pm, Monday to Friday, 9am to 10pm Saturday and Sunday.

For more specific information about local NHS services, NHS Choices ( provides online postcode specific contact information and opening times for NHS healthcare providers such as GP out-of-hours services, A&E, pharmacies and walk-in centres and minor injuries units. Local Primary Care Trusts also offer information on local services and opening hours – some will have a dedicated telephone number as a single point of contact for urgent care services.

All Primary Care Trusts provide out-of-hours services for urgent dental care. Patients in pain or with other urgent dental needs should ring either their practice or their Primary Care Trust or NHS Direct (on 0845 4647) for assessment of need and advice on how to access care urgently if required.

As usual, a number of community pharmacies will be open over the holiday period so that people can get the medicines they need. In addition, the pharmacist is ideally placed to act as the first point of call for many minor ailments and illnesses.

Notes to editor

1. NHS services available over the holiday period include:

·  GP out-of-hours services

·  GP health centres (open 8am-8pm 365 days a year)

·  Walk-in centres and some minor injuries units

·  NHS out-of-hours dental services

·  NHS Direct (on 0845 4647,

·  Pharmacies

·  NHS Choices (

·  Ambulance services (for emergencies)

·  A&E

2. For further information please contact Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.


NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department