Make it your New Year’s resolution to use the Emergency Department responsibly

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Make it your New Year’s resolution to use the Emergency Department responsibly.

We are encouraging people in Bristol to think carefully about the most appropriate place to go for treatment and care if they become unwell over the New Year period.

Whether you’re staying in or going out for your New Year’s celebrations, if you find yourself needing help please think about whether your condition is life-threatening or critical before you visit our Emergency Department.

New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year for many Emergency Departments, and in the days that follow we also see people who could have sought healthcare advice elsewhere. 

From alcohol-related injuries to hangovers and contraception, our team are often kept busy by people trying to use the vital service for minor ailments.

Leilah Dare, Emergency Medicine Consultant, said: “People who attend the department with minor injuries or ailments can help us by considering whether they really need to visit A&E.

“We only have a finite number of resources - time taken to treat avoidable injuries at A&E could be used to treat someone with a life-threatening illness.”

The Emergency Department should only be used for critical or life-threatening emergencies and there are plenty of alternatives if you need healthcare such as NHS 111, your local pharmacy, or self-care.

By using these alternative services, you can help support our staff to prioritise treatment for those people who are seriously ill and in need of urgent care.

Where should you go for urgent help when it’s not an emergency?

Minor injuries units

Minor injuries units and urgent care centres offer a fast, convenient alternative to A&E for injuries that need attention urgently but aren’t life-threatening, such as sprains and strains, minor broken bones and burns and scalds.

Services are available on a walk-in basis and treatment can be significantly quicker than at A&E, especially during the winter period when hospitals are typically at their busiest.

Within the local area there are centres at Yate Westgate Centre and Clevedon Community Hospital. A minor injuries service is provided at South Bristol Community Hospital in Hengrove, and the NHS Walk-In Centre within Boots Broadmead also offers help with minor injuries as well as minor illnesses. All services are available throughout the Christmas and New Year period including bank holidays and weekends. Southmead Hospital's Emergency Department can also provide treatement for minor injuries in children and adults.

GP out-of-hours service

The local NHS also provides a 24-hour GP service for people who need to speak to a doctor urgently at times when their normal practice is closed.

The service is operated by GPs and nurses who offer telephone advice as well as face-to-face consultations or home visits for patients who are housebound.

It’s available from 6.30pm to 8am every weekday and 24 hours a day over weekends and bank holidays. Call 111 to access the service.

NHS 111

The NHS urgent care helpline is free to call and available 24 hours a day. It provides immediate medical advice at any time, as well as guidance on all local services ranging from minor injuries and urgent care centres to the GP out of hours service and emergency pharmacists and dentists. If emergency assistance is required, the call centre can dispatch an ambulance immediately.

Emergency pharmacists

Emergency pharmacists are available throughout the holiday dispensing medicines and providing advice and over-the-counter medication for minor ailments and illnesses that could be treated at home. Many also provide emergency contraception. Details of emergency pharmacists and their opening times are published on the local NHS websites at, and