Christmas Emergency Numbers – informing your patients

We have a week left until Christmas – your surgeries will be busy with people coming in with the usual coughs and colds that this time of year brings – and of course there will be the sudden rush of people wanting their repeat prescriptions before Christmas – and those that will wait until the very last thing and rush in just before you close on Christmas Eve.

But, have you let your patient know what to do if they should need a doctor during the Christmas break?

How have you advertised this?

  • Notices up in the Surgery?( Don’t forget to put one on the front door in case someone comes to the surgery looking for information. )
  • Surgery Website?
  • Answer machine message?
  • Adding a message to repeat prescriptions.
  • Patients newsletter
  • Telling patients if they ask when then come in our phone?
  • Local Village Newsletter for the more rural Practices?
  • Notices in local Chemist / shops

Excellent but do you also have the out of hours number available on all the above too?

The out of hours will be extremely busy over the Christmas period – I know because I worked for them over Christmas for several years  – and what a fantastic service this gives to local people wanting to see a Doctor when there Surgery is closed.


Are you aware of how many people who do not know that the out of hours even exists? I was completely surprised when working for the out of hours and the Surgery just how many people were not aware of this service. I lost count of the number of people who would attend the out of hours clinic and said it was the first that they had heard of it. And all agree what a wonderful system it was.

People that do not have cause to go to their Surgery very often will not have the need to know about the out of hours. Some people have not been to their Surgery for years – so how would they know it exists?

Some elderly will still wait days over a holiday period or a weekend until their own Doctors Surgery is open they too might not be aware of the service.

And of course you have the “visitors” that will be coming to your area – to stay in hotels, with family or friends –  ensure that if they need a Doctor that you have enough information / telephone number for them to be guided to the nearest out of hours clinic.

So, please ensure that you have the number available – and perhaps a brief paragraph on what the service is for and where they have to go for it.

If you have all the above in place they you have done as much as you can for your patient – and hopefully not many of them will need to use the service.


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