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Weekend Diagnosis: Choose well this Christmas

Published: 21 December 2016

Mairead McAlindenThis Weekend Diagnosis is from Mairead McAlinden, our Chief Executive

Christmas is always a very busy time of year for the health service. With the festivities now in full swing, the season brings a time of happiness and celebration for many, although, it is unfortunately also a time of year when more of us will need to access health services.

The colder weather and an increase in the number of colds, flu and viruses circulating meaning that even the healthiest of us can fall ill. By offering some advice and useful tips, I hope that you, your family and friends can be prepared and enjoy this year’s celebrations.

Attending A&E is absolutely the correct thing to do in an emergency or life threatening situation but often people forget about our Minor Injury Units (MIUs). MIUs can treat cuts, grazes, minor burns, bites, stings and fractures or sprains. They provide fast treatment and access for a number of conditions such as those listed above and no appointment is required. Check our website for details of MIU opening and current waiting times

Over the bank holiday period many pharmacies and GP surgeries in the area will be operating reduced opening hours. It is therefore important to ensure that your medicine cabinet is stocked up with all the essentials, such as Parcetomol and cold and flu remedies. In addition, if you have regular prescriptions from your GP, this week is the time to check that you have enough medication to carry you over the Christmas and New Year period. However, if you do need something over the holidays there will be pharmacies open every day, including Christmas Day, to find out which ones are open check

Many GP surgeries also now offer an online repeat prescription ordering service, contact your surgery to find out more.

If you do fall ill over the Christmas period consider whether it is necessary to see a doctor or whether you can treat symptoms with over the counter medicines. Advice is also available by simply calling 111. NHS 111 is a fast and easy way to get the right help, whatever the time. Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency – it’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For online healthcare advice logon at

I do hope you find this information useful and, finally, I would like to wish you all a healthy and very happy Christmas and New Year!