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NHS Kernow’s website closed on 30 June 2022. Visit the NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board website for information about our health and care services.

Have fun this half term – and know where to get the right care if you need it

February half term is upon us and for many that means a healthy dose of fun with the kids. But what should you do if you or a member of your family falls sick or injured during this time?
Unless it’s life-threatening, please don’t head to the emergency department – our doctors and nurses there need to focus on providing life-saving care. There are lots of ways for you to access the right support, treatments and advice from the NHS.

Here are some treatment options if you or a family member becomes poorly.


It’s the fuss-free option. A few basic items in your bathroom medicine cabinet can save you time and effort should sickness strike. Items like paracetamol, a bandage, sticking plasters, antiseptic cream and indigestion tablets. If troublesome symptoms persist or worsen call 111 or visit the NHS 111 website, or your GP.

Visit your local pharmacist

You can speak to your pharmacist for confidential expert advice and over-the-counter treatments for a wide range of common illnesses and complaints, such as stomach upsets, allergies, minor cuts, nappy rash, skin conditions, and coughs and colds. You can also get a face-to-face consultation in a private room, with no appointment, with NHS treatment if needed. They can advise on a range of conditions including limb pain, conjunctivitis, rashes, skin conditions and bites. Your notes will be shared with your GP, and you will be directed to another clinician if the pharmacist cannot help you.

They can also arrange an urgent prescription for a supply of any prescribed medicines that run out. This is available for anyone who’s on holiday or visiting family. Find details of pharmacy opening times and locations.

Contact your GP surgery

Always contact your GP first if you need urgent health advice. The receptionist may ask you some questions so you can be directed to the most appropriate care for your needs. If it’s out of hours and the surgery is closed, or you think you need to visit a minor injury unit, call NHS 111.

You should also contact your GP practice or use its online service to order any repeat medication that is required by you or someone you care for. Please remember to order and collect prescriptions before they run out.

Mental health response line

Call free on 0800 038 5300. The line is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week for anyone who is worried about their own or someone else’s mental health.

NHS 111

Get round the clock urgent healthcare support from a trained advisor either NHS online or by calling 111. You’ll be able to talk to a clinician if needed. Please also call 111 if you think you need to visit a minor injury unit. You will be told the details of your nearest available unit.

Minor injury unit

For an injury that is not serious you can get help from a minor injury unit (MIU) instead of going to the emergency department. You’ll be seen by an experienced nurse, without an appointment. X-ray is available at some locations. Please do not visit a minor injury unit without calling 111 first. View waiting times.

Urgent treatment centre

The urgent treatment centre at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for anyone that needs urgent medical care for injuries and conditions such as fractures, deep cuts, non-life-threatening head injuries and minor falls. You will be seen by a doctor from 9am to 10pm and an experienced nurse overnight. X-ray is available from 8am to 11pm.

Emergency department or 999

Only use the emergency department or the 999 ambulance service for life-threatening and emergency conditions such as a heart attack, stroke, breathing difficulties, unconsciousness, or severe loss of blood. If a family member is experiencing chest pain or has become unconscious telephone 999 immediately.

Dr Paul Cook, chair of NHS Kernow, said: “We are seeing extreme pressures on healthcare services in Cornwall, and we want to ensure that people can get the appropriate care they need, when they need it. So, if you fall ill or have an accident, help yourself and the NHS by getting the right treatment for your level of illness or injury, and keep the emergency department for life-saving care only.

“If you need urgent medical attention but it’s not life-threatening, call your GP practice or 111 for advice. NHS 111 call handlers can tell you where to find an emergency dentist and other services that can help, and give information on your nearest minor injury unit or our urgent treatment centre in Penzance. There you can get help for sprains and strains, minor fractures, broken bones, minor burns and cuts, insect bites and stings.

“If you have a minor illness or ailment then visit your local pharmacist. They can help with expert advice, over-the-counter remedies, and even face-to-face consultations in private with no appointment needed.”

Find details of all services, opening and waiting times.

Added on 17 February 2022, in News - Choose well

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