Christmas break opening hours

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There are some steps which are important to take over Christmas and New Year to ensure contractual compliance.

We know hard working practice teams will be looking forward to the breaks in December, but there have been cases in the past of commissioners performing checks on practices during this time and issuing breach notices.

In light of this your practice should:

  • Ensure business continuity plans are reviewed and updated and contact details for local health organisations are correct. This should include what to do if your practice is forced to close by bad weather.
  • Plans are in place to ensure the identification of high-risk community based patients and to profile their care management over the extended holiday period appropriately.
  • The practice telephone divert arrangements are updated for the bank holidays.
  • Changes to access times are clearly advertised on the NHS website, your practice
  • website and in the practice. If you use a pre-recorded telephone message, use
  • this to remind patients about changes for the holiday period.
  • Ensure the availability of sufficient anticipated repeat medications.

Please remember that Friday the 22 December is still a full working day and you need to offer normal services right up to the practice’s normal closing time. If you have a contract to provide weekend services these still need to be available on 23 and 24 December.


Ensure that you have clear information in the practice and on your website relating to prescription arrangements for the holiday period. Also remember to check whether any of your vulnerable or high-risk patients need additional medication at this time.

Remind patients to ensure they have medication to cover their needs, especially if they are going to visit family in other parts of the country, or abroad.

Advise patients that the last day prescriptions need to be submitted for collection is by close of business on Friday 22 or Friday 29 December 2023.

Display information about when local pharmacies are open during the holiday period.

Also, let patients know if there will be any changes to your normal processing procedure for prescriptions that are requested in the days running up to the Christmas or New Year breaks.

Communicating changes

With all of the above it is important to make it as clear as possible to patients where services will differ from normal and/or what alternative places they can seek care during the times the practice is closed. Bear in mind that not all patients will access information in the same way, so try to use online, printed posters, phone messages and however else you know patients find out about your practice to get the message out.