Accessing Health and Care Services over the festive period

December 15, 2021

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.

Healthwatch Information and Signposting Service

Our information and signposting service will be closed from midday on Friday 24th December, re-opening on Tuesday 4th January 2022. 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.

If your query relates to the Covid-19 vaccination programme, please visit our information hub for the latest updates.

Should you need a more urgent response for a health or care concern, one of the services listed below may be able to help you:

Emergency, urgent and routine medical care

For an immediate, life threatening medical emergency call 999

For non-emergency medical advice contact your GP, or NHS 111 if you are unable to access a GP service. You may be able to find the medical advice you need online

The NHS 111 online service can tell you:

    • where to get help for your symptoms, if you’re not sure what to do
    • how to find general health information and advice
    • where to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine
    • how to get a repeat prescription

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.

Mental health support

The Sussex Mental Healthline, 0300 5000 101, is a 24/7 telephone service offering listening support, advice, information and signposting to anyone experiencing difficulties with mental health.

For urgent mental health support you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or you can email

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 the East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group is to plan ahead to make sure you have the prescription medicines you need during any closure periods.

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

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 the NHS East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group 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.

Emergency care and hospitals

The East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group have advised:

Emergency and urgent care teams in Sussex are reminding people to ‘Think 111 First’ in an effort to ease pressure on frontline services.

As part of the ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign over winter, the NHS in Sussex is asking people to make the right choices if they find they need urgent care in the coming months. As we start to see the weather turn colder, incidents and winter illnesses will begin to increase, creating more pressure on emergency services.

In an urgent but non-life-threatening situation where you think you may need to go to hospital, calling NHS 111 or going to NHS 111 online for instant advice should be your first point of call. Trained NHS 111 advisors can help patients to access the right care when GP practices and pharmacies are closed.

Keeping in touch with health and social care updates

If you would like to keep in touch with local developments in health and social care, please click here to sign up to receive the Healthwatch East Sussex newsletter by email.

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

The Information and Signposting Team

Sign up to our mailing listKeep up-to-date with Healthwatch East Sussex and receive regular information on our activities and how you can have your say on local health and social care services

For detail on how we use your data please view our privacy policy here.