We want to help you get the right medical assistance when you’re ill, injured or have a long-term condition. Going directly to the service with the appropriate skills is important. This can help you to make a speedier recovery, and ensures all NHS services are run efficiently.
Accident & Emergency
Your Nearest A&E
You can use the widget on this page to find local Hospitals. Not all Hospitals have an A&E Department.
A&E Departments offer access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A&E staff include Paramedics, A&E Nurses, Diagnostic Radiographers, A&E Reception Staff, Porters, Healthcare Assistants and Emergency Medicine Doctors. These medical staff are all highly trained in all aspects of emergency medicine.
If you arrive by Ambulance, the Ambulance Crew will provide the relevant details to Reception and hand you over to the Clinical staff. If you are seriously ill, the staff will already know because the Ambulance Crew will have alerted them on the way to the Hospital.
If you’re not in a life-threatening or serious condition, you will be prioritised by the A&E Hospital Team along with other patients waiting to be seen – arriving by Ambulance does not necessarily mean you will be seen sooner than if you had walked in to A&E.
If you go to A&E by yourself, you’ll need to register when you first arrive. You’ll be asked a few questions such as your name and address, and asked why you are visiting A&E. If you have been to the Hospital before, the Reception Staff will also have access to your health records.
Once you’ve registered, you’ll be asked to wait until you are called for your assessment.
Some Hospitals have a separate Children’s A&E Department where medical staff are specially trained to deal with children’s health issues. You may be asked to go straight to the children’s area where your child can be registered and assessed.
If you need special assistance because of a physical or mental disability then you should let Hospital staff know right away. The Hospital may be able to call a Learning Disabilities Liaison, a member of their Liaison Psychiatry Team, or provide any other assistance you or your carer may need.
2. Assessment – Triage
Once you have registered you’ll generally be preassessed by a Nurse or Doctor before further action is taken. This is called Triage. The process is carried out on all patients attending A&E. Triage ensures people with the most serious conditions are seen first.
3. Treatment, transfer or discharge
What happens next depends on the results of your assessment. Sometimes further tests need to be arranged before a course of action can be decided.
If the Nurse or Doctor feels your situation is not a serious accident or emergency, you may be sent to a nearby Urgent Care Centre, Minor Injuries Unit or referred to a GP onsite. This will reduce the waiting queue in A&E and at the same time allows you (the patient with the lesser injury) to be treated quickly as well.
The waiting time target for patients in A&E is currently set to 4 hours from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge. However, not all hospitals have associated Urgent Care Centres, which means people with minor injuries may have a longer wait until they are seen.
In some cases you may be sent home and asked to arrange for a GP referral or you may be given a prescription and sent home. Either way, the Hospital will inform your GP that you have been to A&E.
If your situation is more complicated, you may be seen by an A&E Doctor or referred to a Specialist Unit. For example, this could happen for eye problems, strokes or emergency gynaecology.
Your Local Dentist
Severe toothache, infection or injury within your mouth or to your teeth that needs urgent attention?
You should contact your Dental Practice for an appointment. Even if your Practice is closed, you will hear a message which provides details of their out of hours arrangements for providing advice and treatment.
Not registered with a Dentist?
In order to receive the full range of dental treatment and care under the NHS you must be registered with a Dentist.
When you register with a Dentist you’ll be registered for life, unless you or your Dentist request your registration to be withdrawn.
If you attend another Dentist for treatment and don’t tell them you’re registered elsewhere, your registration will automatically transfer to your new Dentist.
Not all Dentists will take on new NHS patients so it’s important to ask them if they’re able to take you on as an NHS patient during your first contact with them.
Worried about persistent mouth, tooth or gum problems?
Arrange an appointment with your Dentist to get a dental check-up.
The NHS pledges to provide services at a time that’s convenient for you. Outside normal Surgery Hours you can still phone your GP Practice, but you’ll usually be directed to an Out-of-Hours Service.
The out-of-hours period is from 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays and all day at weekends and on Bank Holidays.
You can also go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111 if you need medical help now, but it’s not an emergency.
GPs can choose whether to provide 24-hour care for their patients or to transfer responsibility for out-of-hours services to NHS England, who’s responsible for providing a high-quality service for the local population.
However, this can mean different areas can have slightly different services.
If you have an eye problem, you can make an emergency appointment with an Optician (also known as an Optometrist). These appointments are provided free by the NHS and will ensure you receive the correct specialist care as soon as possible.
How can an Optician help?
Opticians (Optometrists) have the same specialist equipment as specialist eye Doctors (Hospital Ophthalmologists) and may be able to treat and manage your eye problem without a need for you to go anywhere else.
They can also refer you to a Hospital Eye Clinic if necessary.
To make an emergency appointment, telephone your Optician/Optometrist or call 111 to speak to an Adviser when your local Optician is not available out of hours.
How often should I have an eye test?
Our eyes rarely hurt when something is wrong with them, so having regular eye tests is important to help detect potentially harmful conditions.
The NHS recommends that you should get your eyes tested every two years (more often if advised by your Ophthalmic Practitioner or Optometrist).
An NHS sight (eye) test is free of charge if you are in one of the eligible groups and your sight test is considered clinically necessary. If the Ophthalmic Practitioner can’t see a clinical need then you’ll have to pay for the test privately.
Your local Pharmacy is the place to go to get any prescription medicines and clinical advice for minor health concerns.
Pharmacy Teams play a key role in providing quality healthcare.
Pharmacists can also help you decide whether you need to see a medical health professional.
What to expect from your Pharmacy Team
Pharmacists are experts in medicines, and use their clinical expertise, together with their practical knowledge, to advise you on minor health concerns such as coughs, colds, aches and pains, as well as healthy eating and stopping smoking.
They can help you consider the alternatives next time you’re thinking of making a Doctor’s appointment.
You can always call NHS 111, which will help you find the right NHS service.
What services do Pharmacies offer?
All Pharmacies provide the following services:
disposal of unwanted or out-of-date medicines
advice on treatment of minor health concerns and healthy living
Other services that may be available from your local Pharmacy: