The NHS in Hertfordshire is urging people to use its services wisely over Christmas and New Year amid the pressure of winter demands and the coronavirus pandemic.

The health service is currently facing the triple challenge of traditional winter pressures, Covid-19 patients and speeding up the delivery of the vaccination programme.

Dr Rachel Joyce, Director of Clinical Services for the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System, says people can help by using the right service and “looking out for ourselves and others”.

She said: “This winter we are dealing with not only the usual surge in seasonal illnesses such as colds, coughs norovirus and flu, but also staffing and service pressures caused by an increasing number of Covid-19 cases.”

With the NHS prioritising the rollout of booster jabs, Dr Joyce warned there is fewer staff to carry out some routine and non-urgent appointments “so that we can offer every eligible adult in our area a booster vaccination by the end of December 2021”.

She added: “Urgent or emergency care and other critical services, such as cancer diagnosis and treatment, will continue to be prioritised.

“Please continue to attend your booked appointments – your practice will ring you if they need to make a change.  There is no need to ring them.  

"Everyone is working hard to protect their communities and meet the urgent national requirement to deliver the vaccination campaign. Your support and understanding would be hugely appreciated.”

“If you have diarrhoea, vomiting or symptoms of Covid-19, seek health help advice online or over the phone – please don’t risk closing down a health centre or making others very ill by arriving at a health setting unannounced.”

If you have an urgent illness or injury that isn’t life or limb threatening and need medical help, go online to or call 111

If you need health advice visit

If you need more help for your symptoms, your local pharmacy will help you without needing an appointment.