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More NHS advice and support than ever before this holiday season

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If you need over the counter medicines, to fill a prescription or seek advice on mental or physical health conditions, there are a number of NHS services available to you over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Pharmacists are trained healthcare professionals who can offer advice on a range of minor ailments and signpost you to the right care in the case of more serious health conditions. Community pharmacists are often open outside GP practice hours and a number in the area are open on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day too.

Click here to find out which pharmacies are open near you

If you are a parent and have a smartphone or tablet computer, you don’t even need to leave the house to get advice from healthcare professionals – the local NHS is offering a brand new free childhood illness app for both Android and Apple devices that guides you through looking after many common ailments for children at home, with advice on what to do if there are signs of a more serious condition.

Dr Anna Davey, Chair of NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and a local GP herself, said: “I’m very pleased with the new app use which I can use in my consultations so parents can see I have it on my own phone, with the useful contact list, too.”

You can find more information about the app and downloads links at midessexccg.nhs.uk/livewell/startwell. And adults can access similar advice through the NHS website.

Dr Davey added: “Please do make use of the most appropriate NHS service if you need any this Christmas – there are more available than ever before through the holiday and NHS 111 is always there for you if you don’t know the best place to go.”

For the first time, these services include GP appointments every day of the holiday, including the bank holidays. This is part of the CCG’s Extended Access Scheme, which offers extra GP and nurse appointments 365 days a year.

You can download a list of the Christmas opening times here. You can book Extended Access appointments in advance at one of four hubs in mid Essex through your own GP surgery or, when they are already closed, by calling 111. (Please note, there is no walk-in service at the hubs.)

There can be more than just physical health needs at Christmas, though. The holidays are a stressful time for many people and our new online mental health service can give you a range of tools to help you cope. If you need immediate support away, you can also call the local mental health crisis line on 0330 726 0130 or the Samaritans, free, on 116 123.

And if you have a family member who is showing signs of dementia, you can get advice and support at any stage, before or after they have been diagnosed, by calling our Dementia Intensive Support Service (or DISS) on 01245 515 313.

Anyone, whether a member of the public, care home worker or healthcare professional, can call the number to access one-stop dementia services.