NHS under pressure: use services wisely

31 December 2017

The NHS across Kent and Medway is currently experiencing significant pressure, with unprecedented levels of demand for A&E, 111 and out-of-hours services in some areas.

GPs from local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in north Kent, which are responsible for planning and buying local NHS services, are urging people to use NHS services wisely over this bank holiday weekend to ensure people who really need urgent care are able to get it.

Pharmacies, some GPs, walk in centres and minor injury units are open and should be the first port of call unless your illness or injury is an emergency or life threatening.

A spokesperson for Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley, Medway, and Swale clinical commissioning groups said: “Many people are unwell at the moment with colds, chest infections, flu and winter vomiting. Sometimes these illnesses can become life threatening, but in most cases they are treatable at home with over the counter remedies.

“Many people are still using A&E inappropriately and we urge everyone to consider self-care where appropriate and ensure they are stocked up on over the counter remedies such as painkillers and medicines for coughs, colds and flu, and vomiting and diarrhoea.

“If people are concerned about their health and need medical advice, we’re asking them to choose wisely. We’ve put extra GP appointments in place for this weekend and New Year’s Day, and Walk in Centres and Minor Injury Units are also open. Some pharmacists are also open and trained to give medical advice for minor ailments.”

The spokesperson added: “If you’re really unwell, you should seek help. But think about where to go for that help.”

The clinical commissioning groups are also urging New Year revellers to drink responsibly to avoid putting unnecessary demand on NHS services.

The spokesperson said: “Of course people should have a good time if they are celebrating New Year tonight, but we’d ask people to think about how much they drink, and stay well over New Year. Please don’t overwhelm the NHS system with an emergency which could have been avoided.”

To find out what services are open in your area, go to www.nhs.uk or use the Health Help Now website and app which will locate your nearest open pharmacy or other NHS service.

Health Help Now can be found at www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net

NHS services available this New Year

Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley


Pharmacies can offer advice from a trained medical professional and medication for minor ailments.

On New Year’s Day (Monday 1 January) the following pharmacies are open in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley:

Boots the Chemist, Bluewater – open 9am- 12midnight

South Mall, Bluewater, Dartford DA9 9SJ

Tel: 01322 624780

Lloyds pharmacy (inside Sainsbury’s, Dartford) – open- 10am-4pm

7 Priory Shopping Centre, Instone Road, Dartford DA1 2HL

Tel: 01322 223379

Asda Store Pharmacy, Gravesend – open 10m-6pm

Thames Way, Gravesend DA11 0DQ

Tel: 01474 543410

Boots the Chemists, Gravesend – 10am-4pm

9 Kempthorne, Gravesend DA11 0TA

Tel: 01474 352740

Asda Store Pharmacy, Swanley – open 10am-6pm

1 Alexander Grove, Swanley BR8 7UN

Tel: 01322 661970

Asda Store Pharmacy, Greenhithe – open 10am-6pm

Asda Superstore, Greenhithe DA9 9BT

Tel: 01322 374110

GP-led walk-in centre

GP-led walk-in centres can often see you without an appointment. Walk-in centres also have health professionals that will see you without an appointment if you have an urgent concern.

Open from 8am-8pm and you don’t need an appointment to see a GP or nurse:

White Horse GP Walk-in Centre, Vale Road, Northfleet, Kent DA11 8BZ

Phone: 0300 0300 000

Minor Injuries Unit 

Trained nurses at minor injuries units (MIUs) can assess and treat cuts, sprains, minor burns, minor dislocations of the fingers and toes, minor eye injuries and remove foreign bodies from, for example, ears and  noses. MIUs cannot treat babies under one year old.  MIUs are open every day of the year.

Gravesend Minor Injuries Unit, Gravesham Community Hospital: Bath Street, Gravesend, DA11 0DG.

Phone: 01474 360816

Open 8am to 8pm, every day of the year

(X-ray: 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday – check times directly with hospital for weekends and bank holidays)


For emergency dental care, contact your own dentist first. At evenings, weekends and bank holidays (8.30am to 1.25pm) you can call DentaLine on 01634 890300.

Mental health support

Free confidential emotional advice and guidance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from the Mental Health Matters helpline on 0800 107 0160. The Samaritans are also there to listen at any time of day or night and can be reached by dialling 116 123.

NHS 111

If you don’t have internet access or a smartphone, and need urgent health help, NHS 111 can give you free health advice, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.