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Health and care services across north east Essex are currently experiencing significant pressure, with unprecedented levels of demand for Accident and Emergency (A&E) and GP services.

Clinicians at Colchester Hospital say they’re seeing many more patients than they have space for.  They are reminding local people with minor illnesses or non-life threatening conditions to seek alternative treatment or to visit their local pharmacist for advice and support if they need it.

A spokesman for the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Our local system is under serious pressure at the moment.  The priority is being given to those patients with urgent life threatening injuries and illnesses.  If you attend A&E with a minor illness, you are likely to face an extremely long wait as the department’s main focus will be given to those people with a serious life threatening injury or illness.  Please consider the alternative options before attending A&E.”

Pharmacists are medicines experts who can advise on the treatment of a range of minor ailments and many are open at late and at weekends.  Their opening times 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.

The minor injury units in Clacton and Harwich as well as the Walk in Centre in Colchester are open during weekdays and at weekends and patients can walk in (opening time details are below).  Trained nurses 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.


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.