If you need quick help for a medical problem, there are different routes depending on whether the issue is an emergency or urgent.

Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments and 999 are for life-threatening emergencies

If you or a loved one has a life-threatening emergency, you should call 999 or go straight to your nearest emergency department. Examples of an emergency are:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
  • Severe chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Severe burns or scalds
  • Stroke

There are A&E departments at the following local hospitals:

  • City Hospital
  • Good Hope Hospital
  • Heartlands Hospital
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital
  • Birmingham Children’s Hospital (for children under 15 years)

NHS 111 and walk-in centres for urgent but not emergency care

If you have an urgent, but not life-threatening health problem you can now contact NHS 111 to find out if you need to go to A&E. Examples of urgent but not emergency problems include:

  • simple fractures
  • flesh wounds
  • sprains
  • a high fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • abdominal pains

NHS 111 can book you an appointment at your local A&E or emergency department. This time will be a rough guide for when you will be seen. This allows the NHS to better manage patient flow and overcrowding in A&E departments and helps people to be seen sooner.

Your NHS 111 advisor or clinician could also make you a direct appointment with a GP, Pharmacist or Urgent Treatment Centre. They may also be able to give you the advice you need without using another service.

If your condition is not life-threatening, NHS 111 may direct you to a more appropriate service or one that can see you sooner. You may also be asked to wait at home until the emergency department is ready to see you, avoiding a long wait in A&E for you and helping to prevent overcrowding. If you need an urgent face-to-face assessment or treatment, NHS 111 should be able to arrange this immediately for you.

No one who turns up in A&E should be turned away or asked to call NHS 111.

How do you use NHS 111?

You, or someone on your behalf, can contact NHS 111 either online or by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is free to use, including from a mobile phone.

Call 111

NHS 111 online

Urgent Treatment Centres

If you need treatment for minor injuries or illnesses such as cuts, bruises and rashes, you can visit your nearest NHS walk-in centreurgent care centre or minor injuries unit. These are not suitable for treating long-term conditions. You do not need an appointment or to be registered to be seen at one of these services, although it can help to book in advance if possible. You may be referred to one of these services by NHS 111, or walk in.

NHS services

How to register with a GP

A General Practitioner (or GP) provides what is called primary care.

Find out more

Getting a referral

When you need specialist NHS support, like hospital tests or treatment, you often need a referral from your GP first. 

Find out more

How do I get a dentist appointment?

Many people are struggling to get dentist appointments.

Find out more

How a pharmacy can help

Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for various minor illnesses. 

Find out more

Using the NHS app

You can access a range of NHS services from your smartphone, tablet and other devices using the NHS app.

Find out more

Getting an NHS interpreter

It is your right to have a professional interpreter help you at every stage of your healthcare journey.

Find out more