Brighton and Hove health chiefs are calling on anyone in need of urgent medical care at Christmas to contact NHS 111 by phone or online.
They said that, unless it was an emergency, it could prove quicker and better to try 111 – and at any hour of the night or day.
The service now offered by 111 – and other alternatives to waiting for hours at the hospital A&E (accident and emergency) department – can mean easier access to fast treatment.
The Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The local NHS is calling on people in need of urgent medical care that’s not an emergency to use NHS 111 by phone or online first this Christmas and new year.
“NHS 111 is a non-emergency service you can use if you are unsure of which healthcare service you need to visit.
“It offers access to advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by phone and online and can connect callers to healthcare professionals, including nurses, emergency dentists or GPs.
“The advisers at NHS 111 can also arrange face-to-face appointments and if someone is assessed as needing an ambulance, send one directly.
“A call back by a clinician can also be requested using NHS 111 online, based on health care need.
“If you do need urgent care that is not an emergency in the city this festive season, you can also get treated quickly without an appointment at the Brighton Station Health Centre, in Queen’s Road.
“There is no need to be a registered patient or to make an appointment – and it offers easy access to quick treatment from 8am to 8pm Monday to Sunday everyday throughout Christmas and the new year.
“A pharmacist can also help with flu, offering treatment advice and recommending flu remedies, and give guidance on giving medicines to children.
“Community pharmacy opening hours at Christmas and the new year will vary from usual times, with many closed during the bank holidays. Click here for more information.
“No appointment is necessary to see a local pharmacist and most have private consultation areas and will say if you need further medical attention.
“Your local pharmacist is there for much more than you may think and are qualified healthcare professionals who are fully qualified to advise you on the best course of action.
“They can also help you decide whether you need to see a doctor. Get help early, before your condition worsens from your local pharmacist.”
The CCG added: “Residents also benefit from easier access to evening and weekend appointments, available at GPs across the city.
“The service sees GP practices working together to offer patients appointments at more convenient times when they call their local practice.
“Patients can make an appointment between 6.30pm to 8.30pm at night in the week and from 10am to 4pm on a Saturday and Sunday.
“These appointments are in addition to the usual GP surgery opening hours from 8am to 6pm.
“It means that when patients contact their doctor they will be offered appointments at an accessible time and day at surgeries in the city where appointments are available, which may not always be a patient’s usual practice.”
This is a sponsored editorial on behalf of the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).