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Please help Torbay and South Devon’s NHS this Christmas by using the most appropriate service

Published: 19 December 2022

We hope you have a healthy Christmas but the NHS is here if you need help. Our NHS is very busy at the moment, so please help us by using the most appropriate service, and only visit our emergency department if you have a life-threatening or critical condition – our staff need to focus on caring for people who need their help.

Please visit the emergency department or call 999 if you have chest pain; are unconscious; having difficulty breathing; having a fit that does not stop; stroke; severe burns or scalds; severe bleeding that cannot be stopped; have a severe allergic reaction, or a major trauma such as being involved in a road traffic collision.

We’re seeing lots of parents who are worried about Strep A and Scarlet Fever. Symptoms include a painful sore throat, a fever, a light pink rash which feels rough like sandpaper when you run your fingers over it, and red lips and tongue. It can be treated with children’s paracetamol and ibuprofen, and drinking plenty of water. Call 111 or visit or your GP if your child does not improve, or has signs of being irritable and tired, not drinking as much as usual, does not passing urine in the past 12 hours, has a temperature of over 38 degrees if they’re under 3 months, or a temperature of over 39 degrees in older children, or you have a gut feeling something isn’t right. Visit our emergency department if you’re really concerned.

Our HANDI paediatric app also gives parents advice about common childhood conditions in the palm of their hand – you can download it for free from the App or Play stores.

We treat lots of people this time of year for injuries from trips, falls and burns. Our urgent treatment centre in Newton Abbot is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, and our minor injury unit at Totnes is open from 8am to 5pm, 7 days a week. Our nurses can treat burns, broken or fractured bones, sprains and strains, and anything that needs stitching. Check online for waiting times.

GPs are working this Christmas – only closing for the bank holidays. Please call them first if you need urgent health advice and care, and call 111 or visit when they’re closed. Pharmacists can also advise and treat illnesses like upset tummies, coughs and colds, sticky eye, and rashes. Visit to find the opening times of your nearest pharmacy.

Cases of flu and COVID are also on the increase. You can reduce the risk of spreading viruses by washing your hands often with warm water and soap, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, bin used tissues as quickly as possible, and try and stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to do your normal activities.

Symptoms can include a sudden high temperature, an aching body, feeling tired or exhausted, a dry cough, a headache, loss of appetite, upset tummy, or tummy pain, and feeling sick and being sick. You can treat flu and COVID at home with paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, rest and sleep and keep warm.

The best way to protect yourself and others is to get vaccinated – please talk to your GP or pharmacist.

Please help us by collecting loved ones from hospital when we call you, and support them when they get home. Start planning their return home once they’re admitted and get some basic food supplies in for when they’re home.

Plan ahead for Christmas and the new year and order any repeat medication so you don’t run out during the holiday, and pop some paracetamol (including liquid paracetamol for children), plasters, and antiseptic in your shopping trolley to treat minor ailments at home. Indigestion remedies can help you if you over-indulge on food and treats, and rehydration powders and medication can help upset tummies.

Please don’t come to hospital if you have a hangover; you can treat your sore head at home by drinking plenty of water, and taking paracetamol. If you are drinking on the work night out, please be responsible and look after yourself and the people you’re with.

Christmas can be a time for fun, but it can also be a difficult time for some people. It’s okay to not feel ok, and support is available if you have a low mood or are worried about your mental health. You can call the 27/7 urgent mental health helpline – 0808 196 8708 – and Mental Health Matters Devon, whose 24-hour mental health helping is available 365 days a year. Call 0800 4700317.

The Moorings is also open from 10am to 6pm, and 6pm to midnight Monday to Friday (including bank holidays), and noon to midnight Saturdays and Sundays. Call 07483 991 848 or email

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and safe Christmas.