Right care, right place, right now

All NHS services are expected to be under renewed pressure than normal during September and October, as the next period of industrial action gets underway. Whether staying at home or on holiday in the UK, people needing medical help are asked to choose wisely and take simple steps to help ensure care is available to patients who need it most.

Please continue to plan ahead and follow the NHS’ advice to help you get the right care, in the right place, as quickly as possible.

If it's urgent

Use NHS 111 first

Use NHS 111 24/7 before using other services to help you get the right care as quickly as possible.

They can:

  • tell you where to get help for your symptoms
  • direct you to urgent care services, GPs, pharmacies, emergency dental services, or other more appropriate local services – and book you an appointment or provide an arrival time
  • direct you to where you can get emergency supplies of your prescribed medicines, and
  • provide general health information and advice.

Urgent mental health problems

For urgent mental health advice call the Mental Health Central Access Point 24/7 on freephone 0808 800 3302, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You can also visit a Neighbourhood Mental Health cafe.

Minor ailments

You can look after many minor ailments yourself

Many minor ailments can be treated at home with no need for medical attention.

If you are generally in good health, there is no reason why you can’t look after minor illnesses yourself. In most cases the illness will get better by itself and so an appointment with your GP practice or another NHS services isn’t required.

You can get support to help you look after a minor ailment yourself, in three ways:

  • The NHS App is a simple and secure way for people to access a range of NHS services on their smartphone or tablet, including getting health advice. It is available to download on iOS and Android devices.
  • Visit 111.nhs.uk to find out where to get help for your specific symptoms or general health information and advice.

  • Your local pharmacy: Pharmacists are qualified health professionals and are the right people to see if you need advice or over-the-counter medicines.

GP practices

GP practices are open as normal. Use your GP practice as normal during the industrial action.

  • Standard GP practice opening hours are 8am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays.
  • Many practices also offer appointments on Saturdays and later in the evening on weekdays.
  • Please use 111.nhs.uk or call NHS 111 when your GP practice is closed.

Seek medical help if you need it

Even if the NHS is busy, it is really important that patients who need urgent medical care continue to come forward as normal, especially in emergency and life-threatening cases – when someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

If it's life threatening

For life-threatening emergencies, continue to use the emergency department or call 999

Dental care

Dentists are open as normal:

If you need urgent dental care when your usual dentist is closed:

  • Telephone your usual dentist and listen to their out-of-hours advice on their voicemail
  • Visit 111.nhs.uk for an out of hours dentist

If you don’t currently have a dentist, visit NHS 111 online

Do not contact a GP practice, as they will not be able to offer dental care.

Holiday advice

  • If you take regular medication, make sure you order your prescription in good time from your GP practice, so you don’t run out when you are on holiday.
  • Make sure you take your medication with you.
  • If you are unwell when away from home in the UK, your own GP practice should still be your first port of call.  They will be able to provide online, phone and video consultations and arrange for prescriptions to be sent to any pharmacy you choose.
  • You can also use NHS 111 online for advice about getting the right care near to where you are on holiday in the UK.
  • Take a basic first aid kit with you on holiday.
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