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Save A&E for when you really need it. A&E is for emergencies and life-threatening conditions only.

Your guide to urgent care

Save the Emergency Department for when you really need it

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Choose which service is best for you
Choose which urgent care service is best for you

Nearly 400,000 people went to the Emergency Departments in Kent during the last financial year - almost one in four of the entire local population. If you lined all these people up the queue would be around 188 miles long.

According to an NHS survey, 12 per cent of people admit to using the Emergency Department when they knew they didn’t need to. To ensure that Emergency Departments are available for those with genuine emergencies, doctors and nurses are asking the public to save the Emergency Department for life-threatening emergencies and serious injury and illness only. 
Emergency Departments provide a vital service and we need to make sure that it is saved for serious accidents, illnesses and emergencies. You never know when you or your family will need this life saving service.

Minor Injury Units and Walk-in Centres

Minor Injury Units can treat ailments such as burns, sprains, cuts and foreign bodies in the eye, nose and ear. There are Minor Injury Units at Kent & Canterbury Hospital, Buckland Hospital in Dover, Victoria Hospital in Deal, Estuary View in Whitstable, Faversham Health Centre, Sittingbourne Hospital and Royal Victoria Hospital in Folkestone. You can also call NHS 111 for advice (dail 111 from your phone).

GP or NHS 111 for help with non-emergencies

For illnesses and injuries which are not emergencies, please call your GP surgery first or NHS 111. Your practice has your notes and they are the best people to help you. If it is urgent, let the receptionist know and they will do their best to fit you in.

You can call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones. Simply dial 111 on your phone.

Out-of-hours services

Outside of normal surgery hours you can still phone your GP, but you will usually be directed to an out-of-hours service between 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays, and all day at weekends and on bank holidays.

The out-of-hours service is now provided by NHS 111.

Ask your local pharmacist for advice

Your pharmacist can give you advice for many common minor illnesses, such as diarrhoea, minor infections, headache, or sore throats. 

When to dial 999

Call 999 or visit the Emergency Department if you or your loved ones are unconscious, in a confused state, have fits which do not stop, have severe chest pain, breathing difficulties or severe bleeding.

Not sure which service is right for you?

The Health Help Now app helps people find the right service in Kent for their health needs. Search for ‘Health Help Now’ in your app store to download the app or find it online at

You can also visit NHS Choices - the UK’s biggest health website. Hundreds of symptoms, conditions and treatments can be searched for as well as health services near you. 

Download this handy PDF guide to find out where to go when you need urgent medical help. It gives details of your local pharmacists, Walk-in Centres and Minor Injury Units.

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