Use the right service

Use the right service

If you or a loved one are feeling unwell, make sure you use the right service: 

Speak to a pharmacist

Pharmacists are medically trained and can give you expert advice on medicines and how they work as well as help you decide whether you need to see a doctor. You don’t need an appointment or even make a purchase, and you can talk to them in a private consultation area in confidence.

Common complaints that can be treated at home with advice from the pharmacist include:

  • 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
  • Athlete's foot
  • Nappy rash and teething

Call NHS 111

If you think you need to see 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 will assess your symptoms and put you directly in touch with the people who can help, for example, an out-of-hours doctor, a district nurse or an emergency dentist — or it may be something as simple as a 24 hour pharmacy. But NHS 111 can also send an ambulance, without delay, if required.

You should use the NHS 111 service if:

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

For less urgent health needs, you should still contact your GP in the usual way.

Calls to 111 are free from landlines and mobile phones and the service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Your GP

GPs provide a range of services including medical advice, examinations, prescriptions and care for long term conditions, chronic pain and persistent symptoms.

Out of hours, a call to 111 will direct you to out of hours doctors and care. 

Additional GP appointments are available through the GP extended access service; just contact your GP practice in the usual way. You can also book appointments through the out-of-hours service by calling NHS 111.

999 in an emergency     

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 suffering minor illnesses, they cannot get to those who really need their help.

The Emergency Department (A&E) is for serious, life-threatening injuries and illnesses that need urgent medical attention.

 These include:

  • loss of consciousness
  • serious blood loss
  • choking, 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 appropriately helped by calling 111.