For urgent medical help, contact NHS 111 first to get help quickly and safely.
Talk before you walk to avoid busy A&E waiting rooms
Just contact NHS 111
Across our hospitals - Royal Free Hospital, Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital, we are asking patients with an urgent, but not life-threatening, health problem to contact NHS 111 first if they think they need to go to A&E or our urgent care centre.
NHS 111 is now able to book same day appointments in the Emergency Department (Accident & Emergency, A&E) at Royal Free Hospital and Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital.
Our trained health advisors, including hospital doctors, nurses, GPs, paramedics and pharmacists are available 24/7 and can also make direct appointments with a range of services we have in the borough. This includes your local urgent care centre, mental health services, dental care and pharmacists for urgent repeat prescriptions and advice.
It will also help the NHS, with fewer people in waiting rooms to protect our patients and staff from coronavirus (COVID-19).
Get help online or on the phone
Our trained health advisors, including hospital doctors, nurses, GPs, paramedics and pharmacists are available 24/7 to help you get the right care close to where you live.
•go to 111.nhs.uk (for people aged five and over only)
•call 111 for FREE from a landline or mobile phone (all ages)
Should I go to Accident and Emergency?
Please only go straight to Accident & Emergency (A&E) if you or someone with you needs immediate care for something that is very serious, including breathing difficulties, chest pain, life-threatening injuries or a loss of consciousness. If you’re unsure, just contact 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk
The Emergency Departments (also known as A&E) at the Royal Free Hospital and Barnet Hospital gets very busy and we ask that you use it carefully.
Please only come to A&E if you need immediate care for something that is very serious or life-threatening so that we can focus on patients who need it most.
Will I be given an appointment time?
If your care is urgent, but not life-threatening, you could be booked an appointment within a one hour slot, in A&E, meaning shorter waiting times and safe social distancing in hospital to protect you and others.
Does this mean my local A&E will no longer take walk-in patients?
Your local A&E will still accept walk-in patients; however, please only go to A&E if you, or someone with you, needs immediate care for something that is very serious. This includes breathing difficulties, chest pain, life-threatening injuries or loss of consciousness. If your health concern is urgent, but not life threatening, please contact NHS 111.
Can NHS 111 book an appointment for me with another health service?
Yes, NHS 111 can make direct appointments with a range of services we have. This includes mental health services, dental care and pharmacists for urgent repeat prescriptions and advice.
How will using the NHS 111 service benefit me?
By using the NHS 111 service before visiting A&E you will:
•Reduce your waiting time in a busy A&E
•Receive instant advice on the care you need
•Get advice safely
If it is an emergency and someone needs help to save their life, call 999. A&E departments are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to treat people with serious and life threatening emergencies.
Mental health emergency service
There is a crisis and emergency service available to support people who are experiencing a mental health crisis and who need help quickly. The service can be accessed through your GP and by calling 111. Lines are open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Is A&E right for me?
The emergency department is for patients requiring emergency care for serious and life-threatening conditions. Please use the service carefully so it can best support those who need it most - people with chest pain or blood loss, or who are blacking out or choking.
The trust provides an urgent care centre (UCC) at Chase Farm Hospital. This is NOT a full emergency department but urgent care centres treat most injuries and illnesses that are urgent but not life-threatening, for example sprains and strains, broken bones, minor burns and scalds, minor head and eye injuries, bites and stings. The UCC at Chase Farm Hospital is open 8am to 10pm every day. Read more about the urgent care centre.
Our emergency department may not be the most appropriate place for you to come to seek medical advice and help. If your condition is not an emergency there are alternative services that you can access across London and closer to home:
A lot of common illnesses can be treated at home by using over-the-counter medicine and getting plenty of rest. It is worth keeping paracetamol or aspirin, anti-diarrhoea medicine, rehydration mixture, indigestion remedy, plasters and a thermometer in your medicine cabinet. Self-care is the best choice to treat very minor illnesses and injuries. For more information about looking after yourself visit www.nhs.uk.
Your local pharmacist can give you friendly, expert advice about over-the-counter medicines that can help with lots of common conditions such as diarrhoea, a runny nose, a painful cough or a headache, without the need for an appointment. As well as dispensing prescriptions, pharmacists provide a range of services related to specific health issues and can advise on minor ailments such as colds, skin conditions and allergies. Other services include emergency contraception and incontinence supplies. For help finding your nearest pharmacist, use the online search on www.nhs.uk or call 0300 311 22 33.
Make an appointment with your local GP when you have an illness or injury that will not go away, including persistent vomiting, ear pain, stomach ache or back ache. Get the treatment you need at a convenient time and place and reduce the demand on our emergency services. Registering is free and means you can make an appointment with a doctor for medical advice, examinations and prescriptions. For help finding your nearest GP, use the online search on www.nhs.uk or call 0300 311 22 33.
Routine and urgent evening and weekend appointments with a GP are available for residents of a borough or patients registered with a local practice.
Booking an appointment at a GP hub in your area is easy. Walk-in access is also available on weekends and bank holidays at some GP hubs.
Urgent care and walk-in centres
Local urgent care centres and walk-in centres provide fast medical treatment and advice for patients with injuries which are urgent but do not need a visit to A&E. They can also be used when you can’t wait for an appointment with your GP. These centres treat injuries and illnesses such as cuts, sprains and strains, broken bones, minor burns and scalds, minor head and eye injuries, bites and stings. You don’t need to book an appointment – just turn up and you will be seen promptly by a doctor or nurse. To find your nearest urgent care or walk-in centre visit NHS Choices on www.nhs.uk.
Emergency contraception ( the morning after pill as well as the copper coil) is available from the Community Gynaecology Department, Royal Free Hospital during office hours 9 am to 5Pm Mon, Tuesday and Thursday. Community Gynaecology can also be contacted on Wednesday on 02078302495 to arrange for appointments on Thursday.
If you require the morning-after pill outside of these hours we advise that you attend your nearest pharmacist and request this over the counter. Some family planning centres nearer you may be open on weekends or late evening to provide you this service.
If you need help urgently call The National Sexual Healthline on 0300 123 7123
Marie Stopes International offer a 24-hour advice line, as well as access to private sexual and reproductive healthcare services (in certain cases, NHS referrals can be made via your GP). Call 0845 300 8090.
Urgent eye care
We have an urgent eye care service based in clinic 3 on the first floor of the Royal Free hospital. The service operates Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm with the last appointment at 4.15 pm. The service is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 3pm with the last appointment at 2.15pm.
During these times, for urgent referrals, or for advice on your eye condition, please contact:
- The urgent eye care nurse through the Royal Free Hospital switchboard on 020 7794 0500 and ask to bleep 1931;
- The urgent eye care doctor via Royal Free Hospital switchboard 020 7794 0500 and ask to bleep 1758
We also have an urgent eye care service on Thursdays from 9am to 2.00pm in the eye clinic at Barnet Hospital. Please contact the nurses station on 020 8216 4962.
Out of hours
We do not offer an out-of-hours walk-in service; referrals should be made by your GP, optician or other health care provider. If you are not currently under the care of the Royal Free Ophthalmology service you cannot refer yourself.
If urgent you should attend your local accident and emergency department or contact Royal Free hospital switchboard on 020 7794 0500 and ask for the on-call eye doctor.