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Clinicians across Colchester and Tendring say they’re bracing themselves for what could be their busiest weekend of the year.  They’re reminding local people to choose the correct service for their healthcare needs and to visit their pharmacist in the first instance if they need advice or support.

A spokesman for the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Our local system remains under serious pressure and we’re reminding local people to help us by seeking advice from the NHS Choices website or from their local pharmacist.  They are medicines experts who can advise on the treatment of a range of minor ailments and many are open at late and at weekends.”

Concerns have been increased over recent days with national reports of increases in the number of patients experiencing flu.  Clacton GP Dr Prashant Arora said: “If you haven’t had your flu vaccination it’s still not too late.  Flu is a nasty condition and it’s really important that anyone who is eligible for the flu vaccination has it.  The vaccine protects against different strains of flu which can change each year.

“If you’re over 65, or if you are pregnant, or if you have a long term condition, it is really important to get yourself protected.  It is also important that carers get themselves vaccinated also, both to look after themselves and to protect those who they care for.”

Dr Arora added: “Flu can be really horrible for young children and they can spread it around the family, but a simple nasal spray can protect them.  If you think you or your child might be in one of the eligible groups. Make sure you talk to your GP practice about the free flu vaccine.”

Meanwhile clinicians are also reminding the public to help prevent the spread of the highly contagious diarrhoea and vomiting bug, Norovirus.  There have been some recent cases confirmed by health professionals at Colchester Hospital.  Clinicians are again asking the public for their help to stop the spread of the winter bug by staying away from the hospital, where possible, if they’ve had any diarrhoea or vomiting symptoms.  If you do have to visit hospital wards, please ensure you wash your hands thoroughly using soap and warm water and use the alcohol-based hand rub that is available at the entrance to hospital wards.

Dr Hasan Chowhan, Chairman of the CCG and Colchester GP, said: “Sickness bugs are very common at this time of year but they can usually be treated effectively at home with plenty of rest.  A&E is not the right place to go if you have sickness and diarrhoea as it needs to be kept free for those people who need emergency, life-saving treatment.

"If you are experiencing these symptoms, we would really appreciate it if you stayed at home, keep hydrated and stay warm.  You will find that the symptoms should pass within 24 to 48 hours.  In addition, please continue to wash your hands thoroughly using soap and warm water and make sure you have plenty of rest. You would also need to stay away from work, hospitals or social gatherings for at least 48 hours.”

Opening times for pharmacists have been widely publicised in the local media and through social media via local public and community voluntary service websites.  Here is a link to a list of pharmacies that are open:

If you do not have internet access or a smartphone, and need health help when it’s not an emergency, NHS 111 can give you free health advice, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Other services


For emergency dental care, contact your own dentist first.  At evenings, weekends and bank holidays, you can call 111. 

Mental health support

If you are already under the care of the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust in Colchester or Tendring, please call the Access and Assessment Team on 0300 726 1800. 

You can start access to counselling services on the NHS directly through Health in Mind by calling 0300 330 5455.

The Samaritans are also there to listen at any time of day or night and can be reached by dialling 116 123 or Samaritans Colchester - 01206 561234. 

Any young person (aged up to 18 years) experiencing emotional and wellbeing or mental health problems, or any parent, guardian or teacher of a child who is experiencing emotional wellbeing and mental health difficulties can access the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Service (EWMHS).  Call 0300 300 1600 during working hours 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday.  For out of hours and the weekend Crisis Support Service, please call 0300 555 1201.


Further healthcare advice is also available at 







Media enquiries: Please contact the CCG’s Communications team on   01206 918653.