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Non emergency NHS care

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With a recent report highlighting that the average A&E department is now understaffed by 10%, it’s vital that only the most serious of cases use this service. On top of the need for additional staff, patient numbers are increasing, meaning that the target waiting time of four hours is regularly exceeded. If you need NHS care, but it’s not severe enough for A&E, where should you go? This is where the Non emergency NHS care system comes into force.

NHS 111

This is a phone service for those patients who require a quick response, but don’t need to call 999. It can help if you’re unsure which service you need, such as A&E, minor injuries units or your GP. By phoning this number, you’ll have access to trained advisers who can quickly point you in the right direction if you need treatment or can reassure you about what further action to take. The service is free from both landlines and mobile phones and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even during weekends and holidays. There are nurses and paramedics available for specialist advice and they can put you in touch with the right service or call an ambulance directly if required.

NHS Walk-in Centres

These are available across the country and provide access to GPs and nurses. none emergency nhs careUnlike a traditional surgery, you don’t require an appointment and can use the service outside of your local area if necessary: for example if you’re in another part of the country for work or on holiday. They’re able to treat a wide variety of injuries and illnesses, including fractures, wounds, vomiting, bites and stings, rashes, minor cuts and burns and emergency contraception. They often operate different opening hours to GP surgeries, including evenings and weekends.

Minor Injuries Units

If your injury is too serious for GP care, but doesn’t require A&E, then you should use a Minor Injuries Unit. These can provide access to nurse led care, without the lengthy wait often found in A&E departments. There’s no need to make an appointment and no restrictions on who can attend. Problems that a Minor Injuries Unit can deal with include broken bones, sprains, minor burns, minor head injuries, bites and stings, minor eye injuries and back, shoulder and chest problems. If your injury or illness is not severe and it can wait until your GP or pharmacist service is available, then you should do so.

GPs and Pharmacists

These are often the first port of call for non urgent cases. If you feel that you can wait until they next open, then it probably isn’t urgent enough for one of the other services. For patients who fall ill outside of opening hours, you can generally access an out of hours service through your GP’s phone number. Alternatively, there are a number of late night pharmacists available in each area. If you’re unsure of your symptoms, then the NHS Choices website has an online symptoms checker. By answering a few simple questions, they can direct you to the most appropriate service or advise you on the best course of action.

These services are for those with non life threatening cases. If your injury or illness is an emergency situation, then you should always go directly to A&E or call 999.




About Catherine Stern

About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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