When you feel unwell or are injured, the most important thing is to get the right kind of help for your condition, as quickly as possible.

There are lots of different services in the NHS, and some are more appropriate than others for certain types of health problem. Using the wrong service can mean it takes longer for you to get treatment, while using the right service means you can be on the way to feeling well sooner. 

Below, you can find out more about the different types of service in the Black Country & West Birmingham, how to choose which one is right for you, and how to access it. You can also watch this short video:

If you already know which service you need, you can use the following quick links to find a provider near you:

NHS 111 is a great place to get help if you have an urgent (not emergency) medical problem and are not sure what to do. It’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

There are two ways to contact NHS 111:

  • Visit the website at 111.nhs.uk and answer questions about your symptoms 
  • Call 111 from any phone and speak direct to a trained advisor

If you’re deaf and prefer to use the phone service, you can call 18001 111 on a textphone, or find out about the BSL interpreter service here: NHS 111 (BSL) interpreter service. Speakers of other languages can ask for a translator if you need one.

NHS 111 can help in a number of ways:

  • Give you advice on how to manage your condition at home
  • Signpost you to the right local service
  • Connect you to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  • Book you a face to face appointment if you need one, including direct access to some hospital services
  • If you need to go to the emergency department, they can give you a time slot to attend so you won’t have to wait in reception as long.

This video explains more about NHS 111. For translations into different languages, visit the Healthier Futures Youtube Channel 


This is about the things we do to recognise, treat and manage our own health. It’s about doing small, everyday things to keep yourself happy and healthy.

With tens of millions of GP consultations across the UK every year used to discuss conditions that could be treated at home, self-care has an important role to play in the sustainability of the NHS. There’s lots of reasons to self-care if appropriate: 

  • It’s quick

No need to wait for a GP appointment. You can buy medicines at your local pharmacy or supermarket and have them ready to use at home when you need them.

  • It’s easy

Many common treatments can be bought without the need for a prescription, often for much less than a prescription charge.

  • It’s simple

You can find lots of good advice about self-care online (www.nhs.uk is the perfect place to start). You can also call into any pharmacy for advice on minor illnesses.

  • It’s considerate

Self-care helps us keep GP appointments and valuable A&E resources free for those who really need them, and potentially saves the NHS £136million in unnecessary prescriptions every year.

You can be prepared to self-care by stocking up your medicine cabinet:


First Aid

Pain killers


Cold and flu remedies






Anti-diarrhoea medication

Eyewash solution

Oral rehydration salts

Sterile dressing

Indigestion remedies


The above items are important to keep at home, and they don’t have to cost as much as you’d think. Did you know generic versions of branded medicines are available for a fraction of the price? If you prefer to take a big-brand paracetamol it costs around £1.50 for a pack of eight, whereas the unbranded version from a supermarket is around 35p. 

Pharmacists are trained professionals who are ready to give advice on the best treatment for minor conditions like coughs and colds, headaches and migraines, or mild allergies and rashes.  

Most pharmacies offer a private consultation room where they can offer confidential advice. The pharmacist can talk you through your symptoms and offer advice and reassurance about how long these may last and what to do if they continue or get worse.

To find your nearest Pharmacy, visit the NHS pharmacy finder.

It’s very important to be registered with a GP, so you can access healthcare when you need to. 

Your GP can support with both your mental and physical health, and they’re usually the first service you should contact when you have a problem that you can’t self-care for at home. They can prescribe treatments and medicines for a wide range of problems, or make a referral to services in our local hospitals if you need to be seen by a specialist.

GPs are here to help everybody, so you don’t need a permanent address or proof of immigration status to register.

Click here to find your nearest practice, and find out how to register

You can find out more about our GPs in the Black Country & West Birmingham by visiting our GP Members page

If you have a health problem that needs to be treated urgently, you should contact NHS 111 first They will be able to advise whether you need to go to an urgent care centre (usually based at our main hospitals), or whether your condition is serious enough to be seen in the emergency department (A&E). They can also give you a time slot to attend these services so you won’t need to wait as long.

Health problems that can be seen at an urgent care centre include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Suspected broken limbs
  • Minor head injuries
  • Cuts and grazes
  • Minor scalds and burns
  • Ear and throat infections
  • Eye problems
  • Emergency contraception.

Emergency departments deal with serious and life threatening problems

You should call 999 and ask for an ambulance in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, for example:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fits or severe confusion
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chest pain
  • Severe burns or scalds
  • Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Major trauma such as a serious accident, stabbing, fall from height, serious head injury.

If you or someone think that you or someone else is having a heart attack or stroke, call 999 immediately.