Press releases

Thinking of going to A&E? Stop! Is it really the best place for you?

Feeling under the weather? Thinking of going to A&E? Stop! Think again and be confident when choosing the right NHS service for you.

There’s more to the NHS than just GPs and A&E. There’s a whole range of services that can treat you just as well as – and in many cases more quickly than – A&E.


You may not need them now, but there are three things you can do to be ready for when you do need medical attention:

  1. Register with a GP: You need to be registered with a GP before you can make an appointment to see one. Many students aren’t registered with a GP surgery in their university town or city, but it’s really easy, and quick, to do. Whether you’re a student or a permanent resident in Nottingham, just put your postcode into, then visit or ring your chosen practice to register with them. It will be helpful if you have your NHS number to hand. If you don’t know it your current GP surgery should be able to help.

  2. If you have a health issue that’s not an emergency and you’re not sure what to do, there’s a new number you can ring – 111. It’s free to call 111 from a mobile or landline and the service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you’re not sure where to go to get the best help for your health issue just dial 111 for advice.

  3. Save this web address as a favourite on your smartphone, tablet and/or laptop: The NHS Choices website can help you find your nearest NHS services simply by entering your postcode. You can also find advice for treating common health conditions at home, and find out when you do need to pay a visit to the doctor.

Try our short quiz to check whether you would choose the right service:

You’ve hurt your ankle dancing in killer heels at the weekend. Do you:

  1. Dial 999?
  2. Go to A&E?
  3. Rest with your leg elevated; use an ice pack, wait to see how it feels when the swelling goes down and don’t be surprised if it takes six to eight weeks before feeling back to normal?

You’ve got a bad cold. Your head feels full of cotton wool but you can still function. Do you:

  1. Go to the GP demanding antibiotics?
  2. Go to A&E asking for the night nurse?
  3. Go to the pharmacy for cough and cold remedies, and then take to your bed with plenty of fluids?

You’ve got an upset stomach with symptoms at both ends. Do you:

  1. Get a friend to drive you to A&E?
  2. Phone your mum?
  3. Go and see the pharmacist for relief medicines, wash your hands regularly and keep away from hospitals with vulnerable people in?

You’re planning a big night out drinking. Do you:

  1. Hope your friends will take you to A&E if you pass out?
  2. Hope someone will flag down a passing ambulance?
  3. Be sensible. And failing that, make sure you’ve stocked up on painkillers and drink plenty of water.

The correct answer to all of these is c.

Dr Hugh Porter, Clinical Chair of Nottingham City CCG, said: “In all seriousness, A&E only deals with real emergencies and saving lives. We should only be using it for serious illness like choking, chest pain, blacking out, blood loss and fractures.

“The right NHS services are everywhere – we just need you to stop and think – and then choose the right one.”

Published: 20 January 2015