If you have an illness that is not life threatening, contact your GP surgery first if possible. You can still call your GP outside normal surgery hours, but you will usually be directed to an out-of-hours service. The out-of-hours period is 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays, and all day at weekends and bank holidays.
You can also call NHS 111, which can give you advice or direct you to the best local service to treat your injury. Alternatively, use our symptoms checker to assess your symptoms online and receive personalised advice on the best action to take.
If your injury is not serious, you can get help from a minor injuries unit (MIU), rather than going to an A&E department. This will allow A&E staff to concentrate on people with serious, life-threatening conditions and will save you a potentially long wait.
There are there are around seven million attendances at type 3 A&E services (WiCs, UCCs and MIUs) in England. MIUs are usually led by nurses and an appointment is not necessary.
Some MIUs and walk-in centres do not have facilities to treat young children. This depends on the capacity, resources or skill levels available at the MIU or walk-in centre. Contact your local MIU or walk-in centre in advance if you are not sure whether you or your child can be treated there.
Minor injuries units can treat:
- sprains and strains
- broken bones
- wound infections
- minor burns and scalds
- minor head injuries
- insect and animal bites
- minor eye injuries
- injuries to the back, shoulder and chest
If there is not a minor injuries unit in your area, these services will also be provided by an A&E department.
Minor injuries units cannot treat:
- chest pain
- breathing difficulties
- major injuries
- problems usually dealt with by a GP
- stomach pains
- gynaecological problems
- pregnancy problems
- allergic reactions
- alcohol related problems
- mental health problems
- conditions likely to require hospital admission