Accessing urgent care

Think you need A&E? Contact NHS 111 first

There’s a better way to get help with urgent, but not life-threatening, medical problems: just contact NHS 111 first.

NHS 111 will provide immediate advice and guide you to the best service for your needs.

111 in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire has clinical staff, including nurses, doctors and pharmacists, who can provide real-time medical advice over the phone if needed.

And if you need to see someone face-to-face, the local NHS 111 team can refer you into a wide range of local urgent care services, including community pharmacy, the out-of-hours GP and mental health support. For some services, you’ll be given an ‘arrival slot’, meaning you don’t have to sit in a waiting room before your consultation.

Contacting 111 first is the best way to get to the right urgent care as quickly as possible, while helping to relieve pressure on our busy A&E departments and other health services.

Just remember that NHS 111 is for urgent conditions that can’t wait. It’s important you continue to speak directly to your GP or pharmacist as normal for help with other medical problems.

Accident and Emergency (A&E) will always be there for life-threatening emergencies and at those times, you shouldn’t hesitate to dial 999.

If you go to A&E with a non-emergency condition, staff will help you access a more suitable alternative whenever possible.

Contact NHS 111 first:

Which service is right for me?

  • Self-care is best for very minor ailments such as sore throats and upset stomachs. Visit nhs.uk to check symptoms.Help yourself by keeping a well-stocked home medicine cabinet with essentials such as paracetamol and a first aid kit.
  • Pharmacies can help with common problems like coughs and colds, as well as offering emergency contraception and emergency prescriptions. They can also tell you if you need to see a GP.
  • GPs are there to help with an illness or injury that won’t go away. Many GPs now offer telephone or online consultations, which can be easier than attending in person. Outside normal opening hours, contact NHS 111. Not registered with a GP? Visit the service finder to find your nearest.
  • NHS 111 is the 24-hour service for when you think you need help right away but it’s not a life-threatening emergency. They will assess your needs, provide advice over the phone, and if necessary refer you for an urgent face-to-face consultation in the best service for your needs.
  • Our Minor Injury Units in Yate and Clevedon provide care for non-life threatening injuries like broken bones, minor burns, sprains, cuts and lacerations, splinters, minor eye injuries and more. They do not treat illness, chest pain, shortness of breath, stroke or medical issues, injuries only. Visit the service finder for details.
  • Our Urgent Treatment Centre in South Bristol provides the same service as a Minor Injury Unit with the addition of minor illnesses. It doesn’t treat chest pain, shortness of breath, stroke or longstanding medical issues. Contact NHS 111 for guidance on your nearest service.
  • A&E and 999 are for life-threatening emergencies like a suspected stroke, loss of consciousness or a serious injury. If you go to a local A&E with a non life-threatening injury or illness, staff will assess you and may refer you to a more suitable service.

Resources

Animation: Need help urgently but it’s not a life-threatening emergency?

Video: We’ve enhanced your 111 service to make it easier get the help you need