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Where to go when my child is unwell or injured

There are many ways to access advice and treatment in today’s NHS. Using the most appropriate route is helpful for yourselves, other patients, and the NHS. Sometimes, when children attend the Emergency Department it is because it is unclear where to go and this seems to be the most straightforward way to get help. We hope this page will help to explain the different options available in Sheffield and the reasons to choose each one.

When do I contact or see my GP?

Each child should have a GP. Even if your child is not registered with a GP or if you are a long way from your GP, a local GP can see you as a ‘temporary patient’ when needed.

When can my child see my GP?

A GP should always be the first choice when there is a problem that is going on for a few days and is not getting worse. GPs are specialists in most childhood illnesses and have a great deal of expertise including recognising childhood illnesses and treating problems such as asthma and eczema. The fact that the GP has your child’s full records and are able to see you again for the same problem gives them a big advantage over being seen by an Emergency Department doctor.

In some cases the GP will want to refer your child to the hospital. By seeing your GP first, it helps the hospital doctors who will be given a lot of useful information from the GP’s referral letter.

What if my GP has no appointments?

Sometimes when a GP surgery cannot offer you an appointment straight away, they will initially offer a phone call to establish how urgent the problem is. If there is no way for the GP to help in the time needed for the problem the next option (for problems that would have been best seen by a GP) is an NHS walk in centre or the free NHS 111 advice line.

What if my GP is shut?

Even when your GP is closed you have access to a GP led service that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. If you think that the problem is one that could be seen by a GP then you should check to see if your GP is open. If they are closed, phone the NHS 111 advice line.

When do I use the 111 advice line?

The NHS telephone advice service is available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They can sometimes advise about how to manage the problem using shop bought or pharmacy medicines. If the advisor feels that you need to be seen they will advise as to what the most appropriate place is, such as a pharmacy, dentist, GP, walk-in centre or the Emergency Department.

When do I use the NHS walk-in centre?

Walk-in centres (WIC) are a useful route for children who are not injured or seriously unwell. In Sheffield the NHS walk-in centre is at 75 Broad Lane, S1 3PB, and is open 7 days a week from 8am to 10pm.

You will be seen by a healthcare professional who may provide advice and/or treatment for common illnesses or refer you on to the Emergency Department, if need be. You do not need an appointment to use this service. Their website gives more information about their services.

When do I use a Pharmacy?

Community Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals who are able to advise and treat a large number of medical problems that affect children. In Sheffield, there are several pharmacies that are open until late into the evening. The vast majority are part of the NHS Minor Ailments Scheme, which is a service that allows a Pharmacist to provide free advice or treatment for a range of childhood illnesses. To find your nearest pharmacy click here.

When do I use the Emergency Department?

The Emergency Department (ED) is always best used when a child is injured or if attendance is advised by another health care professional. It is also available for ill children, when the responsible adult feels that the child may be seriously unwell. There are conditions that the Emergency Department is less well equipped to treat. In these circumstances the ED team will either refer you to another specialty team or back to your GP. Patients are initially assessed after arrival so that priority can be given to the most unwell or injured patients.

Coronavirus (COVID 19) – what to do if your child has symptoms?

If your child has any of the following main symptoms of COVID 19:

  • high temperature
  • a new pr continuous cough
  • a loss or change of sense of smell or taste then:
  1. Arrange a PCR test through the GOV.UK website
  2. Your child should stay home until you get the results of the PCR test.

You can find more information about COVID-19 here: Healthier Together – COVID-19.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: ED44

Resource Type: Article

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