Have you ordered your repeat prescription ahead of Christmas?

Most GP practices and pharmacies will be closed or have limited opening hours over the Christmas and New Year bank holidays, so making sure you have enough medication at home to cover the festive break is really important.

Dr Peter Gregory, associate medical director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), the organisation that plans and buys health services for the region, is urging people not to leave it too late to get your prescription orders in, and also to keep your medicine cabinet topped up with everyday essentials to help deal with the winter months ahead.

He said: “Planning ahead for ordering and collecting repeat prescriptions is essential at a time when services are likely to be busier than normal. By ordering medicines as soon as possible, it allows enough time for it to be processed and dispensed and helps avoid a last-minute rush.

“Make a note of your local pharmacy’s opening times over Christmas, and now is also a good time to stock up on home medicine basics so that you can make the most of the festive period.

“Coughs and colds, as well as COVID-19, are extremely common at this time of year, so pain relief such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen is useful to keep at home to cope with aches, pains and high temperatures. Indigestion relief remedies, anti-diarrhoea tablets and oral rehydration salts are also good to have to hand, as well as a first aid kit, including a thermometer and ice and heat packs for pain – especially when slips and falls are more likely in frosty conditions.”

Pharmacies will be open for their regular Saturday and Sunday hours on 23 and 24 December, but the majority will be closed for Christmas Day (Monday 25) and Boxing Day (Tuesday 26). Again, pharmacy availability will be extremely limited on New Year’s Day (Monday 1 January). A list of those that are opening will be made available on the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) website.

You can order repeat prescriptions online, through the NHS App or through your GP surgery.

You can also use the NHS find a pharmacy tool to find your nearest available pharmacy.

Think ahead – make sure that you have enough medication to last when your GP surgery may be closed. Don’t use A&E or 111 as a back-up pharmacy; plan ahead. But if you do need emergency advice, community pharmacies can often help.

Most dentists will also be closed over the festive bank holidays. If your dental practice is closed and you need urgent dental treatment or advice contact the Lancashire and South Cumbria dental helpline which can also provide advice, support and an appointment where required. Call 0300 1234 010 between 8am and 9pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm weekends and bank holidays. Outside of these hours, for urgent dental support and all urgent care needs, please visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111. NHS 111 will help direct you to the most appropriate service which could be a walk-in centre, pharmacy or an out-of-hours GP appointment. Always call 999 in the event of a life-threatening emergency.

Those eligible should also book flu and COVID-19 vaccinations – especially if you are attending parties or visiting family – rather than putting it off until the new year. To find out if you are eligible, and to book, visit healthierlsc.co.uk/getmyjab.

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