Public urged to use other NHS services before coming to A&E unless it’s urgent or life threatening

Health chiefs in Coventry are urging the public to consider using other NHS services before coming to A&E unless it’s urgent or life threatening, after demand at University Hospital’s A&E department has been building over several days.

Hospital teams have been working round the clock to free up beds and ensure patients are safely cared for and discharged appropriately. Despite this, the hospital is still experiencing high levels of people attending.

Dr Mike Iredale, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said: "We’re asking people to consider whether they really need to attend A&E. They may also want to think about choosing appropriate alternatives such as NHS111, pharmacist consultations or the walk-in centre.

“We are working closely with our partners to ensure that patients with emergencies continue to receive the urgent care they need."

Dr Adrian Canale-Parola, Chair of NHS Coventry and Rugby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which buys and plans most NHS-funded care in the two areas, urged people to think carefully before attending A&E.

He said: “While emergency care will always be available to people who need it, we would encourage the public to help us by thinking carefully about whether they need A&E or if they can use other, more appropriate NHS services instead.

“The best advice if you are not sure is to call 111 anytime of the day or night and speak to a trained professional who will be able to give you advice on what health service you should go to. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.”

Other options available to patients are:

NHS 111 service
You should use the NHS 111 service if you urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation. It is often the best place to start if your problem is not a 999 emergency.
By dialling 111 – a free number from landlines and mobiles – you will be connected to a team of fully trained advisers, supported by experienced nurses and paramedics. They will ask you questions to assess your symptoms, then give you the healthcare advice you need or direct you straightaway to the local service that can help you best. That could be A&E, an out-of-hours doctor, an urgent care centre, a community nurse, an emergency dentist or a late-opening chemist.

If NHS 111 advisers think you need an ambulance, they will immediately arrange for one to be sent to you.

Your nearest pharmacy can give you on-the-spot advice for minor ailments and sells remedies for a wide range of problems including stomach upsets, aches and pains, allergies and coughs and colds. A pharmacist can also advise on where best to get further help.

Selected pharmacies offer extra services offer extra services or sell additional treatments such as the emergency contraception pill. Some pharmacies also open late. To find out your local pharmacy, visit

GP surgery
Your GP can provide prescriptions and advice on wellness to work as well as treat a wide range of illnesses and minor injuries. These include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Head lice
  • Hay fever
  • Constipation
  • Thrush
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Skin conditions
  • Blood pressure checks
  • Warts and verrucas
  • Mild child illness at any age
  • Stings
  • Insect bites

GP ‘out-of-hours’ service
The out-of-hours service deals with people of all ages and is for urgent medical care and advice when your GP surgery is closed. ‘Urgent’ means that you cannot safely wait until your GP surgery is next open.

You can access the out-of-hours service by calling your usual GP surgery number where you will be directed to the out-of-hours service. The out-of-hours service operates between 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays and all day at weekends and bank holidays.

Accident and Emergency
The Accident and Emergency (A&E) department is located at University Hospital, Walsgrave, Coventry. A&E services are for urgent and emergency situations only. A&E is not an alternative to your GP so do not go to A&E if your GP surgery is closed or you cannot see your GP immediately. Ask yourself: “Does my injury really need A&E?” and help us keep A&E free for those who really need it. If you are not sure, please call the NHS 111 service for advice.

A&E is the best place to go if you have:

  • Suspected heart attack
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Heavy blood loss
  • Deep wounds
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe breathing difficulties
  • Head injury
  • Hip fracture
  • Suspected stroke
  •  Severe burns
  • Acute confused state