Ahead of two consecutive bank holiday weekends (29 April – 1 May and 6-8 May), and an anticipated surge in demand for urgent care services, Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) are urging people to consider their options before going to the Emergency Department at East Surrey Hospital.

Anyone who does not have a life-threatening illness or injury is asked to use alternative NHS services including GP practices, NHS 111, walk-in-centres and pharmacies.

For injuries and non-life-threatening care people can also receive immediate care at Crawley Urgent Treatment Centre and the Minor Injury Units at Caterham Dene, Horsham and East Grinstead.

These alternative services are also likely to be able to give advice or see you quicker than ED during peak periods.

The Trust has warned that people arriving at ED over the bank holiday weekend who could be seen elsewhere, may be redirected to other NHS services or pharmacies if medically appropriate.

People should only use 999 or East Surrey emergency department in a genuine emergency – such as if you are seriously ill or experiencing a life-threatening emergency.

Dr Natalie King, Clinical Director for medicine - emergency access said: “Hospitals are very busy places all year round, particularly during bank holidays, and to ensure that our patients continue to get the very best care, we are asking our communities to think before coming to our Emergency Department this bank holiday weekend. This will help us help those who need us most.

“Our team will be working tirelessly to treat people with life-threatening emergencies and to provide urgent help for people who may have become seriously ill with conditions such as a stroke or a heart attack. If you don’t need emergency care, other NHS services are likely to be able to see you much faster and could save you a wasted journey.”

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Alternative NHS services:

  • Walk-in centre – with no appointment necessary your local walk-in centre is managed by doctors and nurses who are available to deal with minor illnesses and injuries, such as cuts, burns, sprains and suspected breaks.
  • NHS 111 – this is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and offers further advice for patients with urgent, but not life threatening, medical needs. You can either seek immediate advice at NHS online or phone 111 to speak to a trained advisor who will point you towards the most appropriate solution for your medical inquiry.
  • Self-care – people suffering from minor ailments should treat themselves at home or visit their local pharmacy.
  • Pharmacies – your local pharmacist is qualified to offer advice on a wide range of health issues and minor conditions, as well as medication to treat headaches, an upset stomach and other common illnesses including coughs, eye infections, extreme hay fever and rashes. To find ones open in your area please visit here.

Patients who need medical advice or non-life-threatening care can also visit the local Urgent Treatment Centres (UTC) and Minor Injury Units (MIU). These are:

  • Caterham MIU (if aged 18 and over) – Located at Caterham Dene Hospital, Church Road, Caterham, CR3 5RA. Open 9am – 8pm, seven days a week. This is a convenient alternative to A&E and is run by qualified emergency nurse practitioners. The MIU provides treatment for cuts and grazes, sprains and strains, broken bones (fractures), bites and stings, infected wounds, eye problems such as infections or scratches, sports injuries, minor burns and scalds. X-ray facilities available on site.
  • Crawley UTC – Located at Crawley Hospital, West Green Drive, Crawley, RH11 7DH. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. UTCs treat most injuries that are urgent but not life threatening. For example, sprains and strains, broken bones, minor burns and scalds, minor head and eye injuries, bites and stings.
  • Horsham MIU – Located at Horsham Hospital, Hurst Road, Horsham, RH12 2DR. Open 9am – 5pm from Monday – Friday, excluding bank holidays. They are a minor injuries unit staffed by emergency nurse practitioners and other nursing and ancillary staff. They provide assessment and treatment of a wide range of minor injuries in both adults and children. Following assessment patients may be treated and discharged or, if appropriate, referred onto other health care providers. X-ray facilities available on site.

 For advice to help prevent getting ill and self-manage minor illnesses visit the NHS website.