The NHS is very complicated, and it can be difficult to know where to go for help when your child is sick. There are several places that help and advice can be found.
NHS Choices Website
For information only, the NHS Choices website can provide good information for the care of more minor illness - coughs, colds, tummy bugs - where a child is unhappy at times but still eating, drinking, and active. It can also give you more information after you have seen a doctor or nurse, or help you remember what advice was given.
Your GP surgery - Local Practice
During working hours it is usually best to see a GP if you are worried about the health of your child. GP are trained in the care of children and have a lot of experience in looking after them. At times it can be difficult to get an appointment, so if this is the case, ask the receptionist for the duty doctor to ring you. Leave an up to date contact number, and be clear to mention if you think it is urgent. The doctor will then ring you after listening to you will decide when and where you child should be seen. There are very few medical emergencies that are best dealt with in hospital straight away, so in most situations it will always be best to contact your GP before deciding to going anywhere else. GP Surgeries offer a minor injury service so can see bumps and scrapes as well
This is a relatively new telephone service for urgent care problems. It is available 24hours a day, seven days a week and is free to everyone. It is also the way you would access GP care out-of-hours. You just dial "1-1-1" on your phone and your call should be answered quickly. Once your call is answered your details and your childs will be taken and after several questions, the call handler with the help of the special computer program will advise you where the best place for your child is to be seen. If your practice is open they can advise you to ring them and speak to your GP. If the practice is closed they may recommend talking to the on-call GP. They will contact the GP for you and they will ring you back. The NHS 111 call-handler can also hand your call to a clinical advisor, if you just need advice. If it is more serious then the call handler can send you an ambulance, or advise you to attend Accident and Emergency
Accident and Emergency
A+E should not be used for more minor illnesses. However, if your child has had an accident and they are in a lot of pain, or are unable to move a leg or arm, then it is sensible to take your child to A+E. If you are not certain it is serious then contact your GP first. Head injuries are common, most are not serious. For head injuries only take your child to A+E if they bang their head and are knocked out, or have a cut on the face or head. Otherwise your GP practice provides a minor injury service, including for children. Doctors in A+E are trained in emergency illness and trauma, and do not always have training in childhood illnesses, so for the less severe illnesses it is always better to see a GP at your surgery or the duty GP in the evenings and weekends
This is for life threatening emergencies. If you are not sure that you need an emergency ambulance, then please ring NHS 111. If they feel an ambulance is needed one will be dispatched without delay.