Choosing the right care when you are unwell can help to reduce demand on NHS services. If you start to feel unwell, remember to seek advice as soon as possible. Download our A5 leaflet 'Do you know which service to use?' (PDF file, 146KB)
Choosing well means that:
- Busy accident and emergency services, including 999 and ambulances, can help those who need them most urgently
- Essential treatment can be given as quickly as possible
- You can get the right treatment in the right place
Stock up with medicines at home so you are prepared in case symptoms develop.
Self-care is the best choice to treat very minor illnesses, ailments and injuries. A range of common illnesses and
complaints, such as a hangover, grazed knee, cough, sore throats, upset stomachs and aches and pains can be treated with a well stocked medicine cabinet and plenty of rest. Remember to complete and comply with prescribed medications.
Some self-care essentials for your medicine cabinet include:
- Anti-diarrhoeal medicines
- Re-hydration mixtures
- Indigestion remedies
- A thermometer
NHS 111 is available 24 hours, seven days a week, if you urgently need medical help or information but your situation is not life-threatening.
Call 111 if:
- you need medical help fast but it's not a 999 emergency
- you think you need to go to A&E or need another NHS urgent care service
- you don't know who to call, you don't have a GP to call or your GP practice is closed.
- you need health information or reassurance about what to do next
You can also call NHS 111 if you’re unsure which NHS service you need.
NHS 111 is a free phone call available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
For less urgent health needs, contact your GP or local pharmacist in the usual way.
For immediate, life-threatening emergencies, continue to call 999.
Your pharmacist can give you advice for many common minor illnesses.
Lots of pharmacies are open until late and at weekends, and you don’t need to make an appointment.
Your pharmacist can also talk to you confidentially without anything being noted in your medical records, which some people may prefer.
Pharmacy teams can give advice about a range of common conditions and minor injuries, such as diarrhoea, a runny nose, painful coughs and headaches. You don't need an appointment.
If you would like to buy an over-the-counter medicine, the pharmacist can help you choose one.
They can also advise you on whether you need to see a GP.
Make an appointment with your GP if you are feeling unwell and it is not an emergency.
If you have an illness that won’t go away, make an appointment with your GP practice. They can provide a range of services by appointment and when absolutely essential can also make home visits. Some of the things you should go to your GP about include:
- Back pain
- Stomach ache
- Ear pain
If you think you need to see a GP when your surgery is closed, call NHS 111.
Local pharmacists may also be able to give you the help you need, so you won't have to spend time waiting for an
appointment. Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals, and may offer a wider range of health services than you might think.
If you need urgent care for a minor injury or illness, urgent care centres are available.
Urgent care centres are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital. Injuries and illnesses that can be treated at an urgent care centre include:
- Burns and scalds
- Minor chest, neck and back injuries
- Head injuries (where a patient remains conscious)
- Allergic reactions
- Cuts, bites and stings
- Foreign bodies in wounds, ears and noses
- Muscular sprains and strains
- Eye conditions
- Infections (including abscesses
Once you arrive at the urgent care centre, the severity of your injuries or illness will be assessed and you will be provided
with the most appropriate treatment for your need.
999 and emergency departments are for patients with serious, life threatening injuries and illnesses.
Medical emergencies can include:
- Blood loss - severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- Blacking out
- Loss of consciousness
- An acute confused state
- Fits that are not stopping
- Persistent, severe chest pain
- Breathing difficulties including choking
- Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- Severe allergic reactions where breathing is affected
- Severe burns or scalds
- Heart attack or stokes
Also call 999 if you think someone has had a major trauma. Major trauma is often the result of a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from height, or a serious head injury.
Chorley and South Ribble Hospital Emergency Department is open 8am - 8pm, seven days a week.
Royal Preston Hospital Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Think carefully before going dialing 999 or going to an accident and emergency department at a hospital as there may be another local health service available to you that is more appropriate to use.
Make the most of your local pharmacy
Your local high street pharmacy can provide a range of essential health services, from dispensing prescriptions to providing health and lifestyle advice.
Pharmacists can provide expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses and complaints, without you having to wait for a GP appointment or visit a hospital accident and emergency or urgent care service.
Many pharmacies also have consultation rooms where you can speak to a pharmacist in private for confidential advice or treatment.