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Local services– choose well

The NHS has much to offer us in terms of support, but it is also very stretched. It is therefore important you choose the service you need carefully and sensibly so that you receive the right help and treatment, while reducing pressure on emergency services, freeing them up for those who really need them.

Call NHS 111

If you are unsure which service to use, call 111 first and they will advise you about the most appropriate service to use.

Or if you think you need a doctor in the evening, over the weekend or on a Bank Holiday, for something which you feel cannot wait, call 111.

Trained call handlers, supported by nurses and paramedics at St. Mary’s Hospital will assess your symptoms and put you directly in touch with people who can help such as a doctor, district nurse, emergency dentist or a 24 hour pharmacy. They can also send an ambulance, without delay, if required.

You should call NHS 111 if you:

  • need medical help fast, but it’s not a 999 life-threatening emergency
  • think you need to go to A&E or another NHS urgent care service
  • don’t know who to call for medical help or you don’t have a GP to call
  • require health information or reassurance about what to do next

Calls to 111 are free from landlines and mobile phones and are available every hour of every day.

In an emergency call 999

Please think before you dial 999. The ambulance service is for emergencies and life-threatening situations only. If ambulance crews are called out to those with minor illnesses, they cannot get to those who really need their help.

The Emergency Department (A&E)

A&E is for emergencies only: serious, life-threatening injuries and illnesses that need urgent medical attention such as:

  • loss of consciousness
  • heavy bleeding
  • severe chest pain or breathing difficulty
  • serious burns
  • strokes and persistent fits

People with these types of serious conditions will be treated before those with minor complaints - which would be more quickly helped by calling 111.

Speak to a pharmacist

Pharmacists are medically trained and can help navigate the medicines you might need, as well as help you decide whether it is necessary to see a doctor. An appointment is not needed and often they are able to see people straight away and talk discretely in a private consultation area and in confidence. No purchase is necessary, and they are able to give expert advice on a wide breadth of ailments such as:

  • Skin conditions, such as mild acne and mild eczema
  • Coughs and colds including nasal congestion and sore throat
  • Minor cuts and bruises
  • Constipation and haemorrhoids (piles)
  • Hay fever and allergies
  • Aches, pains, such as headaches, earaches and backaches
  • Indigestion, diarrhoea and threadworms
  • Period pain and thrush
  • Warts and verrucas, mouth ulcer and cold sores
  • Athletes foot
  • Nappy rash and teething
    • diagnosis of symptoms
    • health education
    • vaccinations
    • simple surgical procedures

General Practitioner ‘GP’/doctor

Your GP can provide a range of services including medical advice, examinations, prescriptions and ongoing care for more longstanding or chronic conditions, in addition to:

If you’re not sure whether you need the help of a doctor, call 111 and they can advise you.

NHS Choices

NHS Choices provides health advice online across the majority of common ailments, childhood conditions and pregnancy. Visiting this site could also give you a range of information and advice that might help you prevent a crisis later on.

Local services for children and young people

What 0-18 is a very useful site for those anxious times when your child is unwell or when you would simply like to better understand ways to care for your child. It is also available as an app to help you get the answers you need more quickly. It covers pregnancy and new babies right through to childhood illnesses, and lists details of the urgent care services near to you.