ambulanceHospital emergency 

What is an emergency?

When it comes to your health or the health of someone in your family, it is often very obvious if the person is seriously ill and needs immediate emergency care. 

An emergency is a critical or life-threatening situation.

To help you decide what a critical situation is, here are some examples:

  • unconsciousness
  • a suspected stroke
  • heavy blood loss
  • suspected broken bones
  • a deep wound such as a stab wound
  • a suspected heart attack
  • difficulty in breathing
  • severe burns
  • a severe allergic reaction

What to do in an emergency

Stay calm, shout for help. You may need to instruct someone to telephone 999. Make sure they know where the ambulance has to come to, and they have some details about the person who is injured or ill. 

Don't put yourself in danger. For example, if someone has been electrocuted, make sure you switch off the power supply before touching them. Do everything you can to help the person. 

Don't give the person anything to eat, drink or smoke. Don't stick anything in their mouth. 

Follow the instructions the ambulance service call handler may give you. 

The way to help a person very often depends on what is wrong with them. Sometimes, the quickest way to help is to take the person to the nearest accident and emergency department. This will vary from area to area as it does depend on how close your local hospital is.  However, even in an area where your hospital is fairly close, you should call an ambulance and not move the patient if: 

  • you think they may have hurt their back or neck, or have any other injury that may be made worse by moving them, 
  • the person is in shock and needs your constant attention, or 
  • the person has severe chest pain or difficulty breathing. 

Reference [NHS Choices]

Minor Injury Units

Patients often attend the hospital Accident & Emergency department when they could be treated just as professionally and usually more quickly at a Minor Injuries Unit. Minor Injuries Units are for patients with:

  • Cuts/grazes and lacerations 
  • Sprains and strains 
  • Broken bones (fractures) 
  • Bites and stings (including human/animal bites) 
  • Infected wounds 
  • Minor head injuries 
  • Minor eye infections, foreign bodies and scratches

Minor Injuries Units are staffed by highly qualified nurse practitioners who often have more experience and expertise in this kind of treatment than many doctors.

You don’t need an appointment to visit and the waiting times are usually much shorter than those in the Emergency department as emergency staff must give priority to serious and life-threatening conditions.

Urgent contraception

Women can get a pill for emergency contraception from sexual health or family planning clinics, their GP or free from certain pharmacies (if under 25). A pill for emergency contraception can be given up to 72 hrs after unprotected sex to reduce your risk of pregnancy.  You can be fitted with an IUD which is far more effective. This can be done at the practice, family planning clinics some GU clinics or Wilberforce Centre 6-10 Story Street in the City centre.

If you need urgent advice call the practice or outside normal hours dial 111.

Urgent dental care

If you require urgent dental care, you should contact your own dentist for advice and treatment if required, in the first instance.

If you are not registered with a dentist and find yourself in need of emergency dental care outside of normal working hours, please dial 111 for the NHS 111 service - available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Mental health emergencies

If a person's mental or emotional state quickly worsens, this can be treated as a mental health emergency or mental health crisis. In this situation, it's important to get help as soon as possible. Dial 111 to find out where help is available. If you feel the person is in immediate danger then call 999.



  • Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Can they raise both arms & keep them there?
  • Is their speech slurred?

Time to call 999 if you see any single one of the above signs

Click HERE for more information

NHS Ambulance Services

Learn more about the ambulance service and emergency call-handling from NHS Choices. Also you can view four humorous videos produced by NHS North West on real life examples of how not to use A & E departments.

Learn more

Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website