Five places to go when you don’t need A&E and five ways they can help

  • 08 January 2020


Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) is reminding people in the area of the range of urgent care options available for those who are unwell but don’t need to go to A&E.

Hospital A&E departments are extremely busy following the Christmas and New Year period with a spike in admissions for winter illnesses such as flu.

While NHS services across BNSSG are working hard to manage the demand and ensure patients continue to receive safe and effective care, the CCG is asking people to use the right service for their needs.

Below are five alternatives to heading to A&E when a condition is not life-threatening:

NHS 111

  1. NHS 111 can be accessed 24/7 online at or by calling 111 from a landline or mobile
  2. A trained adviser will assess your needs quickly
  3. You may be referred to a GP, emergency dentist or other medical professional
  4. You can request an interpreter if you need one
  5. NHS 111 can direct you to A&E or another service in the community if needed

Minor Injury Units

  1. There are Minor Injury Units in Yate, Clevedon and Hengrove, South Bristol
  2. They are open seven days a week, 365 days a year from 8am until 8.30pm
  3. MIUs can treat head injuries, strains, sprains and broken limbs for anyone over the age of one.
  4. Waiting times are generally a lot shorter than A&E
  5. If your injuries are more serious you will be referred to A&E

Out of Hours GP Appointments

  1. Extra GP appointments are available in the evening and at weekends
  2. Many GP practices offer phone appointments if you are not able to make it in person
  3. Some practices also offer online consultations
  4. GPs can treat general illness and injuries and provide prescriptions for medicines
  5. They can refer you for further treatment if needed.


  1. Pharmacists are trained medical professionals who can give advice on a range of minor illnesses and injuries
  2. Many medications are available over-the-counter without prescription
  3. Pharmacists can provide the flu vaccination, which is free of charge for those who are eligible
  4. Many pharmacists have a consultation room if you want to discuss something in private
  5. Your local pharmacist can arrange repeat and emergency prescriptions

Head to your medicine cabinet!

  1. Stock up your home medicine cabinet so you can self-care for a range of illnesses and injuries
  2. Make sure you have painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol suitable for everyone in your family
  3. Include antihistamines for allergies and anti-diarrhoea tablets and dehydration salts
  4. Invest in a first aid kit
  5. Cold and flu remedies are useful to have to hand

Dr Lesley Ward, local GP and BNSSG CCG Clinical Lead for Unplanned Care said: “A&E departments are exceptionally busy at the moment which is creating significant pressure on the system. Everyone can help us by using the right service for their needs.

“Use A&E if your condition is life threatening and use one of the other urgent care-services for non-life threatening illnesses and injuries. If you are unsure, contact NHS 111 and you will be directed to the right service for your needs.”

Use A&E for life-threatening conditions such as loss of consciousness, chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, symptoms of stroke or a major trauma such as a road traffic accident.