Get the right care, first time

When you’re injured or unwell, choosing the right care, first time can save you time and effort, as well as helping us to make the best use of NHS resources.

Right care, first time

Did you know that one in four local people who go to A&E could get the care they need more quickly from their GP or another community health service? Or that many of the people who go to their GP for very minor ailments could receive the same care and advice by popping in to their high street pharmacist?

This section provides an overview of a wide range of local NHS services, from pharmacists to GP surgeries and minor injuries units. Explore each service to find out what they can help with and how to access them.

Self-care

Self-care is perfect if your condition is something you will be able to treat at home – in fact, home is the best place for you.

Pharmacies

Your local pharmacist (chemist) is your healthcare expert on the high street. They provide confidential, expert advice and treatment for a range of common ailments, such as coughs and colds, diarrhoea or minor infections. 

A pharmacist will be able to help you decide if you need to see a GP or other health service.

Many pharmacies are open late and on weekends, and there are always some open over Bank Holidays.

GP Surgeries

Contact your local GP for help with non-urgent illnesses or injuries that won’t go away. They provide a range of services by appointment including medical advice, examinations and prescriptions, and using a GP can save time as they know your medical history.

NHS 111

NHS 111 is the telephone helpline for when you urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation. It’s open 24 hours a day, every day of the year and is free to call from your landline or mobile phone.

Using 111 will help you get the right care, first time, and can save you time, effort and unnecessary journeys

Walk-in Centres

NHS walk-in centres offer fast and convenient access to health advice, information and first aid. You can walk in 7 days a week.

Professional nurses run the centres and will be on hand to offer help when and where you need it. 

Minor Injuries Units

Minor Injuries Units are there to help with injuries that need attention urgently but are not critical or life threatening.

Most minor injuries units are open long hours and you can be seen much more quickly than at A&E.

Did you know? Waiting times at minor injuries units can be much shorter than at A&E.

A&E Departments

Emergency Departments and 999 are for serious and life-threatening emergencies only.

You should travel to A&E yourself if you can. But if someone is too ill, for example if they have collapsed or can't breathe, dial 999 for an ambulance.

Did you know? A&E units may refer you to an alternative service if you go there with a minor injury or illness.

The smart choice for the right care, first time

The NHS Service Finder app can help you find your nearest, most appropriate health service wherever you are. 

The NHS HANDi App provides advice and support for parents and carers looking after a poorly child. It has straightforward advice on what to do and who to contact, with home assessment guidelines for common childhood illnesses. 

Need more advice? Call NHS 111, free, at any time.