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Get set for Christmas – how to stay well this winter

NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group urges local residents to prepare now for the Christmas and New Year festive season.

At this time of year, with so many preparations underway for festive season celebrations, it is easy to forget about health. But, several consecutive public holidays take place during the Christmas and New Year periods, and GPs, pharmacies and other healthcare service providers will all operate a reduced service.

If you can plan ahead for the shut-down, your party plans will stay on track.

There are several easy ways to prepare for a healthy, happy Christmas and New Year:

  • If you have a medical condition requiring medication, ensure you order sufficient supplies to cover the whole holiday shut-down, and any trips away you have planned. Contact your pharmacy or GP by phone, online or in person in good time to order your repeat prescriptions.

  • Stock up on home medicine cabinet essentials suitable for all the family: painkillers, hangover and indigestion remedies, cough and cold medicines, contraceptives, and a minor injury first aid kit are all sensible items to have to hand, and all are readily available from local pharmacies.

  • Find out what health services will be open locally during the festive period. Check up on local pharmacies' and other NHS services' opening hours by visiting the Merton CCG website here.

  • Bookmark good online sources of health information, such as NHS Choices, which can offer reassurance and allow you to confidently manage a health problem. Useful information on when to seek help for a variety of health complaints is also available from the Self Care Forum, at 

  • Why not download the Health Help Now app, which contains a wealth of expert advice on keeping well? This NHS app has information on which local services are open, including pharmacies able to supply an emergency prescription. Visit the Health Help Now website at or download the app from Google Play or app stores.

Check up on vulnerable friends and neighbours to ensure they have everything they need to keep themselves healthy and happy over the festive season. Older people are particularly at risk during the colder weather. During 2015-16, people in the 65-84 year age group accounted for over six million hospital admissions, according to NHS data.

Dr Carrie Chill, Clinical Director for Unplanned Care and Governing Body GP member at NHS Merton CCG said: "The final weeks of the calendar year can see the longest waiting times for A&E even though for two in every five people, the wait is unnecessary, as they will not need any treatment.

"We want people to enjoy themselves this Christmas and New Year, and with a little bit of health planning, there is no reason why that should not be the case. There are plenty of information and resources available to help people take care of themselves and to stay well this winter."