Stay well this winter
If you are injured or ill, the NHS provides a range of services to help you get well.
You can get better, faster treatment by choosing the NHS service that can best treat your symptoms. This also helps the NHS by reducing the pressure on services like A&E so that they can help those people in most need. Visit the Stay Well This Winter pages for information on managing winter illnesses, and staying healthy during the winter months.
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.
When you need medical help fast but it is not an emergency, call the NHS free phone number 111. The 111 service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Calls to 111 will be assessed, advice given and, if needed, patients will be directed to the most appropriate local health services. Calls to 111 are free wherever you call from. Call 111 if:
- You need an NHS urgent care service
- You don’t know who to call for medical help
- You need information about a health issue
If it is an emergency and someone needs help to save their life, call 999.
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.
A&E or 999
A&E departments are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to treat people with serious and life threatening emergencies.