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

December 14, 2023


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 you 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 you can do to get ready for the festive period

  1. Stock up your medicine cabinet so you can treat minor issues at home
  2. Sign up for Cold Alerts, so you can be alerted when there is severe cold weather forecast in your area
  3. Make sure you have plenty of your medication to last you through the holidays when your GP and Pharmacy may be closed
  4. Know the services available to you and use the right one for your needs at the right time
  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 2pm on Friday 22nd December, re-opening on Tuesday 2nd January 2024.

A voicemail service will be available for you to leave a message, or you can email

Any enquiries received during our closure period will be responded to as promptly as possible when the service re-starts in January.

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

The Advocacy People provide NHS complaints advocacy to support people in East Sussex with a complaint if a service provided or paid for by the NHS does not meet the appropriate standards.

They can be contacted by:
– calling 0330 440 9000
– emailing

Over the Festive Period the opening hours of the Advocacy People’s Contact Centre will differ. Please see below for a full table of their opening hours:

Friday 22nd December, Normal Hours 9:00 - 17:00 Monday 25th December, Christmas Day Closed. Tuesday 26th December, Boxing Day Closed. Wednesday 27th December, Reduced Hours 09:30 - 15:30 Thursday 28th December, Reduced Hours 09:30 - 15:30 Friday 29th December, Reduced Hours 09:30 - 15:30 Monday 1st January, New years Day Closed. Tuesday 2nd January, Normal Hours 09:00 - 17:00

Emergency, urgent and routine medical care

Using the right service at the right time will help the NHS to respond appropriately to your needs.

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 60 80 191 if you would like to:

  • report abuse or neglect (please phone) If the person is in immediate danger, contact the police on 999
  • 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.

Make sure you get your prescription medicines before your pharmacy or GP practice closes for the 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

Opening hours at weekends and Bank Holidays are as follows:

  • Eastbourne – 1pm to 5.30pm with appointments between 2pm to 4pm
  • Hastings and Lewes – 9am to 1.30pm with appointments between 10am to 12pm

Further information on the Emergency Dental Service in East Sussex is available here.

The 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 Pharmacy

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.

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