Today’s columnist, Dr Mary Wren: Best service out of hours

Northern General Hospital A&E department, Sheffield.
Northern General Hospital A&E department, Sheffield.
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At weekends and Bank Holidays, when working for the GP out-of -hours service, I often see people who are surprised the service is available, so it seemed good to run though options when you need a doctor on evenings and weekends.

Firstly, there are pharmacies where you can be given good advice on a range of minor illnesses and ailments, and often a problem can be solved without having to see anyone else.

There are many pharmacies in Sheffield open late and at weekends and you can find the nearest to you by looking at the NHS pharmacy locator at Signpost Sheffield under the staying healthy section.

Some pharmacies also offer emergency contraception– a list of options is available on the website.

Secondly, you can dial 111. If you do not have an emergency problem requiring a 999 call, this is the number to ring.

Your problem may be dealt with on the phone, or if not you will be directed to the most appropriate place to get help.

This is also the number to ring for emergency dental problems.

If you need to see a doctor then your call will be logged with the GP out of hours service based at the Herries Road entrance of the Northern General.

A doctor or nurse will ring back and if necessary you will be offered an appointment to be seen.

The minor injuries unit at the Hallamshire hospital is open from 8am to 8pm every day and staff can deal with injuries such as twists, sprains, cuts, and some fractures.

The NHS walk-in centre is based on Broad Lane and here you can wait to see a nurse practitioner any time between 8am and 10pm.

Finally there is A&E at Sheffield Children’s Hospital for under 16s and the Northern General for over 16. This is for accidents and emergencies only.

Emergencies include things like broken bones, chest pains or breathing difficulties, or when you have taken a possible overdose or swallowed something harmful, deep wounds and bleeding a lot.

The team at A&E is not going to treat minor things and you may end up being directed elsewhere.

The Signpost Sheffield website is an information site about the learning disability service in Sheffield but has excellent information on staying healthy, using the NHS, going into hospital and information guides, as well as useful contact details and phone numbers.

If we use the service well, it will work better for everyone.

* Dr Mary Wren, Sheffield GP