Choosing the right service

Choose Well

Choosing the right care when you are unwell is important as it can help to reduce demand on NHS services, meaning we can be there for those who really need us. If you start to feel unwell, remember to seek advice as soon as possible.

Click here to download our leaflet, titled  'Do you know which service to use?'

Choosing well means that:

  • Busy accident and emergency services, including 999 and ambulances, can help those who need them most urgently.
  • Essential treatment can be given as quickly as possible.
  • You can get the right treatment in the right place at the right time.

Visit the our find a local health service page find out more.


Self-care is the best choice to treat very minor illnesses, ailments and injuries.

A range of common illnesses and complaints, such as a hangover, grazed knee, cough, sore throats, upset stomachs and aches and pains can be treated with a well stocked medicine cabinet and plenty of rest. Remember to complete and comply with prescribed medications.

Some self-care essentials for your medicine cabinet include:

  • Paracetamol
  • Anti-diarrhoeal medicines
  • Re-hydration mixtures
  • Indigestion remedies
  • A thermometer

You can also find lots of useful resources by visiting the self care forum.

NHS 111

NHS 111 is available 24 hours, seven days a week, both online and via telephone, if you urgently need medical help or information but your situation is not life-threatening.

Visit NHS 111 or call 111 if:

  • You need medical help fast but it's not a 999 emergency
  • You need an NHS urgent care service
  • You don't know who to call or which service you need, you don't have a GP to call or your GP practice is closed.
  • You need health information or reassurance about what to do next

NHS 111 is a free phone call.

Local pharmacy

Your pharmacist can give you advice for many common minor illnesses.

Lots of pharmacies are open until late and at weekends, and you don’t need to make an appointment.

Your pharmacist can also talk to you confidentially without anything being noted in your medical records, which some people may prefer.

Pharmacy teams can give advice about a range of common conditions and minor injuries, such as diarrhoea, a runny nose, painful coughs and headaches.

If you would like to buy an over-the-counter medicine, the pharmacist can help you choose one.

They can also advise you on whether you need to see a GP.

GP Surgery

Make an appointment with your GP if you are feeling unwell and it is not an emergency.

If you have an illness that won’t go away, make an appointment with your GP practice. They can provide a range of services by appointment and when absolutely essential can also make home visits. Some of the things you should go to your GP about include:

  • Back pain
  • Stomach ache
  • Ear pain
  • Vomiting

If you think you need to see a GP when your surgery is closed, visit NHS 111 online or call NHS 111.

Many GP surgeries now offer extended opening times on evenings and during weekends.

Urgent Treatment Centres

If you need urgent treatment for a minor injury or illness, urgent treatment centres are available.

Urgent treatment centres are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital. Injuries and illnesses that can be treated at an urgent care centre include:

  • Burns and scalds
  • Minor chest, neck and back injuries
  • Head injuries (where a patient remains conscious)
  • Allergic reactions
  • Cuts, bites and stings
  • Foreign bodies in wounds, ears and noses
  • Muscular sprains and strains
  • Eye conditions
  • Infections (including abscesses

Once you arrive at the urgent treatment centre, the severity of your injuries or illness will be assessed and you will be provided with the most appropriate treatment for your need.

999 or emergency departments

999 and emergency departments are for patients with serious, life threatening injuries and illnesses.

Medical emergencies can include:

  • Blood loss - severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • Blacking out
  • Loss of consciousness
  • An acute confused state
  • Fits that are not stopping
  • Persistent, severe chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties including choking
  • Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • Severe allergic reactions where breathing is affected
  • Severe burns or scalds
  • Heart attack or strokes
  • Major trauma e.g. the result of a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from height, or a serious head injury.

Royal Preston Hospital Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Chorley and South Ribble Hospital Emergency Department, reopening Monday 02 November 2020, will initially open as an adults only service. The department will accept patients from 8am until 5pm each day. Learn more at:

Think carefully before going dialing 999 or going to an accident and emergency department at a hospital as there may be another local health service available to you that is more appropriate to use.

Download the Stop, Think Ambulance fact sheet.