How and where to access health and care services over the festive period


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How and where to access health and care services over the festive period

Many health and care services change their working hours over the Christmas and New Year period.

We have drawn together some key information to help people navigate which services are open when, and how to get help and support if you need it.

We wish you a safe, happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

The Healthwatch East Sussex Team

5 things to help you get ready for the festive period

  1. Know the health and care services available to you and use the right one for your needs at the right time
  2. Stock up your medicine cabinet so you can treat minor issues at home
  3. Sign up for Cold Alerts, so you can be alerted when there is severe cold weather forecast in your area
  4. Make sure you have plenty of your medication to last you through the holidays when your GP and Pharmacy may be closed
  5. Look in on vulnerable neighbours and relatives who may need a bit of extra help over the winter.

Healthwatch Information and Signposting Service

Our information and signposting service will be closed from midday on Friday 23rd December and re-open on Tuesday 3rd January 2022. No messages will be responded to during this period.

For a response in the new year, a voicemail service will be available for you to leave a message or you can email

Our telephone service, 0333 101 4007, is normally available between 10am and 2pm, Monday to Friday.

If you would like to leave feedback about a specific health or care service, you are invited to submit a Feedback Centre review via our website.

Support with NHS Complaints Advocacy

As well as a range of services, The Advocacy People provide NHS complaints advocacy, to support people if they have not had the service they expected from a service provided or paid for by the NHS.

If you need support with a complaint about an NHS service in East Sussex, you can contact The Advocacy People through their contact form or via:

0330 440 9000

Text 80800, starting message with PEOPLE

Over the Festive Period the opening hours of The Advocacy People’s Contact Centre will differ, please see below for further details:

Accessing the right services at the right time

Accessing the right service at the right time can help you get the support you need quickly and efficiently.

The diagram below provided by NHS Sussex sets out how different services can help you and what steps you can take to help yourself.

Adult Social Care enquiries and safety concerns

Contact the Health and Social Care Connect team (East Sussex County Council) on 0345 608 0191 if you would like to:

  • report abuse or neglect (please phone)
  • apply for care and support
  • get support for a carer

This service is open 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week including bank holidays. Calls are charged at a local rate. Select menu option 2 to connect to the Emergency Duty Service for an out of hours emergency.

You can also access further information via the East Sussex County Council website.

Updates for accessing health and care services over the festive period

GP Practices

Your GP’s opening hours may change over Christmas and New Year. Information should be available on your surgery’s website or telephone answering service.

Advice from NHS Sussex is to make sure you get your prescription medicines before your pharmacy or GP practice closes for holidays.

If you need medical advice outside of your GP’s opening hours, or should you need an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine, visit NHS 111 online or call 111.

Dental Practices

Your dentist’s opening hours may change over Christmas and New Year. Information about closures and other options available to you during any closure time should be available on your practice’s own website or telephone answering service.

If you are in need of temporary urgent dental treatment or advice outside of your dentist’s opening hours contact:

East Sussex Emergency NHS Dental Service

  • For Eastbourne area, call 01323 449170
  • For Hastings area, call 01424 850792
  • For Lewes area, call 01273 486444

Further information on the Emergency Dental Service in East Sussex is available here.The NHS Sussex Dental Helpline, 0300 123 1663, will continue to operate Monday – Friday, 8am – 4pm, over the festive period, except for bank holidays. They can support with information to help you access NHS dental services.

Community Pharmacies

Advice from NHS Sussex is to make sure you have the prescription medicines you need and stock up your medicine cabinet as your pharmacy’s opening times may be different over the festive period.

Your pharmacy will be able to confirm any changes to their opening hours via their website, telephone service or an in-store notice.

Support with emotional wellbeing

The Sussex Mental Healthline offers listening support, advice, information and signposting to anyone experiencing difficulties, or who may be in crisis and in urgent need of help, with their mental health.

The service is free and is available to anyone of any age who is concerned about their own mental health or that of a relative or friend. This includes carers and healthcare professionals.

To access the service call NHS 111 and select option 2 or dial 0800 0309 500

The urgent help in a crisis page provides details about additional support as well as more information.

The service welcomes Text Relay calls and New Generation Text calls from hearing and speech impaired callers, on 0300 5000 101.

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