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Stop and think before attending A&E

Please help us to keep our A&E Departments free for people needing emergency care.

There are still people heading to hospital even though they should really be seeking help from GPs; pharmacists; or getting better at home.

Emergency teams are having to care for people with illnesses such as colds and flu; or the winter sickness and diarrhoea bug – that means they have to balance the overriding need to deal with genuine medical emergencies; with the needs of the less seriously ill.

Many people arriving at A&E would get faster; more convenient help if they spoke to a
qualified pharmacist; contacted their local GP; called NHS Direct; or used the out-of-hours GP service in Sussex; Harmoni.

Such services are often more local; easier to access; and have shorter waiting times.

Please consider using other services before coming to A&E:

Out-of-hours GP service

You will be given advice over the phone or given an urgent appointment with a nurse or doctor at an out of hours practice.

  • If you are in West Sussex call 0300 130 1313

NHS Direct

You can assess your symptoms online quickly and can be told whether you need further care.


Your local pharmacist can give expert advice about over-the-counter medicines without appointment.

GP surgery

Your doctor and practice nurses offer advice and assessment on a range of healthcare problems by appointment.

To find all the local healthcare options; visit the NHS Sussex website at www.westsussex.nhs.uk and click on ‘Get the right treatment’.

Dr Phillip Barnes; Medical Director at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust; said: "If anyone has an accident or needs emergency care; then of course our A&E teams are there to help.

"But if your condition is not an emergency; please stop for a minute and consider your options – there are lots of choices out there; and it is essential that we try to protect our A&E services for those who need them most.

"We would always want people to use their local A&E service wisely; but even more so at the moment when there are so many people suffering serious illnesses and injuries."