A&E alternatives: where to go when it is not an emergency

A nurse on the phone

On contact … Some health troubles can be managed with phone suggestions. Photograph: Alamy

A&ampE can’t suggest “something and almost everything”, says the School of Emergency Medicine. Last week a survey unveiled that almost one in five sufferers in England admit they have misused accident and emergency at some stage – and departments are struggling to cope with ever-escalating numbers. The part of A&ampE is to deal with acute severe illness or injury, but as a lot of as 50% of individuals could be managed elsewhere. Nonetheless, you can hardly blame the public for pitching up, when most folks simply never know what else to do, or in which else to go when they or their young children are unwell. So what are the choices?

In doing work hours

8am-6.30pm, Monday to Friday

Common practitioner

If you have an urgent well being issue that isn’t lifestyle-threatening, this is the place you must go. GPs are educated generalists and can advise on, and deal with, a broad range of troubles. Practices should have systems in area to deal with urgent well being difficulties, and if no appointments are obtainable, GPs and nurses in the surgical procedure use phone triage to perform out who needs to be observed and who can wait. Numerous wellness concerns can be managed safely on the phone.

If you feel your health problem cannot wait right up until the up coming accessible appointment, insist on at least speaking to a healthcare specialist in your surgical treatment. You must not be directed away to other services by non-clinical personnel. But do be aware that GP surgeries are also currently dealing with an unprecedented boost in demand.

If you have an urgent wellness issue but have not registered with a GP, you can even now attend your neighborhood surgical treatment. Request to be noticed under the “quickly needed therapy” scheme.


Nearby pharmacies are an underused resource and pharmacists are able to give sensible suggestions on frequent ailments this kind of as coughs, colds and rashes. Pharmacies can also provide emergency contraception and might be able to offer a modest supply of repeat medicines if you run out of medication when your surgical procedure is closed.

Link to video: Within Britain’s busiest A&ampE

Out of hours

6.30pm-8am, Monday to Friday six.30pm Friday to 8am Monday public holidays

NHS 111

If you have a wellness dilemma amongst these hours and are not positive what to do, then phone your GP surgery and pay attention to the answerphone message. This ought to state alternatives available in your regional area.

In numerous locations of the country, you will be directed to mobile phone the 24-hour national NHS 111 helpline. This services replaced the previous NHS Direct services and went dwell nationally in April 2013. It is the encouraged very first stage of phone, a “telephone just before you go” services for individuals not certain what to do. A non-clinical contact handler will take a historical past employing decision-help software program and, based mostly on your signs, can advise you what to do or refer you to an proper services. More complicated calls are referred to healthcare professionals and the support can organize for emergency ambulances, if necessary. Your nearby NHS 111 services has access to information on all the nearby overall health services and could refer you to one particular of these if you require to be seen.

GP out of hours

In all areas of the nation, there is a neighborhood out-of-hours services obtainable. Your GP surgical treatment answerphone message ought to state whether you can contact your regional services right, as you may possibly only be in a position to accessibility it through the NHS 111 service.

Some health troubles can be managed with phone tips, but the services can also organize encounter-to-encounter appointments at neighborhood overall health centres, and home visits are presented for those who are housebound. The support can refer you to A&ampE, psychological overall health and other local community-based mostly companies as well. Even so, this out-of-hours service is not a GP surgical procedure, and does not arrange schedule investigations or referrals.

Walk-in centres/urgent-care centres

Numerous, but not all, local health authorities have walk-in centres (though following funding cuts, some have been closed). They can supply a valuable support for unregistered sufferers or other people who have trouble accessing their personal GP providers. They are usually open 365 days a yr hours will differ and they are staffed mostly by nurses. You do not require an appointment you can just walk in.

They deal with a selection of difficulties like rashes, minor injuries, emergency contraception, infections, sprains and cuts and bruises, and can dress wounds, if necessary. Yet again, they are not a replacement for your personal GP service, so they do not organize schedule investigations or referrals.

Usually these walk-in centres are located next to an A&ampE division and are known as urgent-care centres. The hospital might refer individuals to these centres if they have a overall health want but do not require the solutions of A&ampE.

Small injuries unit

If there is a single in your spot, you can visit a small injuries unit. These units deal with sprains, broken bones, wound infections, small burns and scalds, small head injuries and back soreness.

Dental surgeries

If you have toothache and are not registered with a dentist, don’t waste your time going to A&ampE or your GP. All regions have an emergency dental service. Telephone NHS 111 for particulars.

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