All GP practices (surgeries or health centres) are linked to an out of hours service. The details for this are available on the surgery answer phone outside normal working hours. GPs provide out of hours care for problems that can’t wait. They’re available when someone’s usual surgery is closed. The out of hours service usually runs from 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays, and all day at weekends and bank holidays, but this will vary if the practice runs some evening or Saturday morning surgeries.Many people we spoke to had never used out of hours services. Susan once went because of an eye condition that she was very worried about. She couldn’t see very well and had had a terrible headache for three days. She didn’t know what to do so she phoned the NHS non-emergency number. It was a weekend. The out of hours GP examined Susan’s eye and advised her to go to an eye hospital. She ended up going earlier than the appointment time given to her because she was so worried. It ended up being a very rare eye condition:
Susan needed help when the surgery was closed. She was advised to go to the out of hours service. She was impressed with how quickly she could see a doctor.
The out of hours GP thought Susan might have a migraine. She prescribed some tablets but also gave her a hospital appointment time to attend.
Minor Injury Units (MIUs) are nurse-led services that treat injuries such as strains, sprains, and broken bones. No appointment is needed. If necessary, some people might be referred to specialist services or to a GP. Minor injuries include:
simple ear, nose and eye complaints
minor bumps to the head
sprains, broken bones, fractures, and dislocated fingers
minor burns, cuts and bruises
bites and stings