When to go to A&E
An A&E department (also known as emergency department or casualty) deals with genuine life-threatening emergencies, such as:
- loss of consciousness
- acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
- chest pain
- breathing difficulties
- severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- severe allergic reactions
- severe burns or scalds
- major trauma such as a road traffic accident
Less severe injuries can be treated in urgent care centres or minor injuries units. A&E is not an alternative to a GP appointment.
If your GP is closed you can go to 111.nhs.uk or call 111, which will direct you to the best local service.
Alternatively, you can visit an NHS urgent treatment or walk-in centre, which will also treat minor illnesses without an appointment.
How to find your nearest A&E
Not all hospitals have an A&E department. You can use the find services search on the NHS website to see if there is one near you.
When to visit an urgent care centre
Urgent treatment centres are a facility you can go to if you need urgent medical attention but it’s not a life-threatening situation.
Urgent treatment centres are GP-led and open for at least 12 hours a day every day of the week (including bank holidays).
You may be referred to an urgent treatment centre by NHS 111 or by your GP. You can also just turn up and walk in.
Conditions that can be treated at an urgent treatment centre include:
- sprains and strains
- suspected broken limbs
- minor head injuries
- cuts and grazes
- bites and stings
- minor scalds and burns
- ear and throat infections
- skin infections and rashes
- eye problems
- coughs and colds
- feverish illness in adults
- feverish illness in children
- abdominal pain
- vomiting and diarrhoea
- emergency contraception