A&E departments assess and treat patients with serious injuries or illnesses. Generally, you should visit A&E or call 999 for life-threatening emergencies, such as:
- Loss of consciousness;
- Acute confused state and fits that are not stopping;
- Persistent, severe chest pain;
- Breathing difficulties;
- Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
If an ambulance is needed, call 999, the emergency phone number in the UK. You can also dial 112, which is the ambulance number throughout the European Union.
Major A&E departments offer access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, although not all hospitals have an A&E department. At A&E a doctor or nurse will assess your condition and decide on further action.
If it is not an immediate emergency call NHS 111. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can provide medical advice and advise you on the best local service to offer the care you need.
For illnesses that are not life threatening you should first contact your GP surgery. Outside of normal surgery hours you can still phone your GP, but you will usually be directed to an out-of-hours service. The out-of-hours period is from 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays, and all day at weekends and on bank holidays. During out-of-hours periods you can also call NHS 111.