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Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

Feeling unwell? Know where to go

Alternatives to A&E

We know being unwell can be worrying and you may want to get medical help as soon as possible. However you might not always need a trip to A&E to help you to feel better.

A&E is for life threatening and serious illnesses such as choking, severe bleeding or chest pains. If you aren't sure whether you or someone you know needs to come to A&E then NHS 111 can help.

If you or someone you are with is in a life-threatening emergency please phone 999

Call 999 in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

Medical emergencies can include:

Call 999 immediately if you or someone else is having a heart attack or stroke or if you think someone has had a major trauma, such as after a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from height, or a serious head injury.

Find out when to call 999 and what will happen if you need to contact the ambulance service:

Please remember arriving by ambulance does not mean that we will see you any sooner. Patients are prioritised based on their clinical need not by when or how they arrive.


How to get help from NHS 111:

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their friendly team of trained advisors can help if you or someone you know has an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do.

They will ask you questions about your symptoms and depending on the situation you will:

  • find out what local service can help you
  • be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  • get a face-to-face appointment if you need one
  • be told how to get any medicine you need
  • get self-care advice


How to get help from your GP:

General practitioners (GPs) treat all common medical conditions and refer patients to hospitals and other medical services for urgent and specialist treatment. You should be registered with a GP for any common ailments or medical support. 

Before you make an appointment to see your GP, please consider alternatives such as your local pharmacists or self care.

  • If you are registered with a GP please contact them for an appointment as soon as you begin to feel unwell to avoid your condition worsening.
  • If you are not registered with a doctor but need to see one, you can receive emergency treatment from any GP surgery.
  • If you phone your GP surgery outside normal surgery hours, a recorded message will tell you who to contact or NHS 111 can help.

You can find details of GP surgeries local to you using the NHS website

How to get help from a pharmacist:

Pharmacists are trained to help people treat themselves for many common conditions, such as colds, flu, stomach bugs and aches and pains. As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.

If symptoms suggest it's something more serious, pharmacists have the right training to make sure you get the help you need. For example they will tell you if you need to see a GP. Many pharmacies are open until late and on the weekends and you can just walk in.


How to keep yourself healthy:

Basic first aid information is provided on the NHS wesbite. It is good to familiarise yourself with this information so you know what to do if you opr someone you love needs medical help. Every year in the UK, thousands of people die or are seriously injured in incidents. Many deaths could be prevented if first aid was given before emergency services arrive.

First aid advice can be found here: or you can attend courses hosted by many charities and organisations including the Red Cross and St Johns Ambulance.


Health A-Z: The NHS has information on a wide range of health conditions, injuries and illnesses. These provide information such as symptoms, causes, treatments and when to seek medical help

Washing your hands regularly and using the reccomended washing technique can help to keep you and the people you lvoe healthy. Details of how to do this can be found on the NHS wesbite:

Keep a well stocked medicine and first aid box:

One of the ways you can keep you and your loved ones healthy is to keep a well stocked medicine and first aid box. Minor conditions such as colds and colds can be treated with medication and supplies that you can have at home. Most of these items are available in most pharmacists or supermarkets and are cheap to buy.

We would reccomend always keeping the medicine below in your medicine box to help to treat common ailments and illnesses. Please remember that these items may not always be suitable for all ages, pregnant women and people with exisiting medical condiitons. Please always read the packagaing and check with a pharmacist or GP if you're unsure.

  • Painkillers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol and aspirin
  • Antihistamines for dealing with allergies, insect bites and hayfever
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Anti-diarrhoea tablets
  • Antacid tablets for indigestion, stomach ache or heartburn
  • Sunscreen

For your first aid box we reccomend including the following items:

  • Bandages
  • Plasters
  • Thermometer
  • Antiseptic
  • Eyewash solution
  • Medical tape
  • Sterile dressings
  • Tweezers

 When keeping medicines at home, remember to:

  • always follow the directions on medicine packets and information leaflets, and never take more than the stated dose
  • always keep medicines out of the sight and reach of children – a high, lockable cupboard in a cool, dry place is ideal
  • regularly check the expiry dates on a medicine – if a medicine is past its use-by date, don't use it or throw it away: take it to your pharmacy, where it can be disposed of safely

If you have questions about any medicines or you want to buy them, ask your local pharmacist.

For more information on your medicine cabinet viist:

How to keep yourself healthy in the winter:

The colder weather can trigger or worsen some health problems such as asthma, flu, colds, sore throats, norovirus, cold hands and feet, heart attacks, cold sores and painful joints.

To help you to stay well during the winter the NHS have guidance on what illnesses to be aware of and how by using self care and community NHS services you can prevent a trip to hospital. 

Winter fuel payment:

Top 10 common winter illnesses:

Sya well this winter advice:

Information if you're a carer:

Facts about the flu and flu vaccine:

Keep warm, keep well:

Five ways to stay healthy this winter:

Check if you have flu:

Check if you have a common cold:

Check if you have norovirus:


How to keep yourself healthy in the summer:

Most of us enjoy the warmer weather but there are health risks associated with the warmer weather. When a heatwave hits or when the temperature starts to increase make sure you are looking after yourself and people you know.

How to cope in hot weather:

Dehydration: Remember the eldery, children and babies are alll more at rish of dehydration.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

Sunscreen and sun safety:

How to get vitamin D from sunlight:

How to treat and ease sunburn:

Are you at risk of sunburn?

If you have lots of moles or freckles, your risk of getting skin cancer is higher than average, so take extra care:


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