Getting ready for Christmas? Advice to help you stay well this winter

19 December 2017

NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group (DGS CCG) which is made up of local GP practices and plans and pays for most of the area’s healthcare, is reminding people to prepare for Christmas and New Year bank holidays.

At this time of year when cold weather strikes, and services are reduced over the holiday period, NHS staff are very busy treating patients who need emergency and urgent care.

Aside from making sure extra GP appointments are available over Christmas and New Year, they are advising people to follow three easy steps to get themselves ready for a healthy festive season and help them stay well when health services are at their busiest:

❄prepare a home health kit

❄download the free Health Help Now app

❄visit your pharmacy for advice


  1. Prepare a ‘home health kit’ 

We can all help by thinking ahead, and taking some simple steps so that we can treat the most common ailments from the comfort of our homes. 

Make sure you and your family have immediate access to a range of over-the counter-remedies and first aid essentials, which can be picked up easily from a local pharmacy or supermarket to treat symptoms of colds, coughs, headaches, sore throats, stomach problems and minor cuts and scrapes.

Home health kit suggestions… 

  • Painkillers (paracetamol and ibuprofen – including infant/child versions if you have young children)
  • Throat pastilles
  • Digital thermometer
  • Plasters, bandages and sticking tape
  • Antiseptic lotion, cream or spray
  • Anti-diarrhoea tablets
  • Rehydration salts
  • Indigestion treatments

Remember to store medicines out of the reach of children and always follow the instructions on the label, taking notice of the use-by date and check if your family members are allergic to any of the ingredients.

If in doubt, ask your pharmacist. You can use the Health Help Now app to find out opening times of NHS services near you.


  1. Download the Health Help Now app – your pocket guide to NHS services 

If you have a smartphone or computer, download the Health Help Now app from or from the Google Play Store or the App Store.

It can guide you to the best service for your symptoms, and tell you the nearest NHS services that are open during evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

This website and app launched by the NHS in Kent can help people find the right treatment, any time of day or night, and wherever they are in the county.

The app can help identify where the nearest open pharmacy is, along with instructions on how to get there, which is ideal for evenings, weekends or bank holidays.  Just search for ‘Health Help Now’ online.

 Find out where to get health advice and treatment when it’s urgent but not an emergency


  1. Visit your pharmacy for medicines advice and more…

Your local pharmacist is a medicines expert who can advise on the best way to treat colds, coughs, sore throats, hay fever, verrucas, digestive problems and more.

You probably won’t need a prescription as many over-the-counter medicines are readily available for these conditions. Many pharmacies are open evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Your local pharmacist is fully qualified to advise you on the best course of action and can offer expert advice and treatment for many common illnesses. Please plan ahead and order any repeat prescriptions from your GP before the Christmas and New Year period. 

Bank holiday pharmacy opening times in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley