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Don’t just go to A and E find the right care closer to home


Winter is a busy time for the NHS and particularly our A&Es. Part of this is because many people still go to A&E for treatment of common health problems, like coughs and colds or vomiting and diarrhoea, when they would be better off being treated elsewhere.                                                       


So where in Lewisham should you go if you have a more common health problem? By visiting the ‘Not always A&E' website, you can search common symptoms conditions and find out how and where to get the treatment you need closer to home.

Throughout February, to help people find the right care, we’re continuing running ‘not always A&E’ – our information campaign featuring 7ft tall, bright yellow statues with various common illnesses and conditions.  

It’s important that everyone knows when is the right time to head to A&E. Unnecessary trips, with conditions that could be treated by a pharmacist, or GP, or simply by resting at home, place high demand on the service. It can mean people who need immediate, life-saving care have to wait. So it’s important that you think carefully about the situation first and only go A&E if it is absolutely necessary.

According to national data, around 40%* of A&E attendances could be treated elsewhere. Across south east London, A&Es see around 1500 patients a day. This means that every day around 585 people could have avoided the A&E completely.

Find out the types of services that are near you, visit

Keep a look out for our yellow men!

So far this winter, posters have appeared on buses and billboards across Lewisham. We even took our 7ft tall, yellow statues to Lewisham Shopping Centre on 18 December 2013. We handed out leaflets and talked to residents about where they can go when they need general healthcare advice and treatment.

Posters focus on things like backache, runny noses, vomiting and sore throats. These are very common symptoms that people regularly attend A&E with. In these situations, rather than go to A&E, the best advice is to ask your local pharmacist for help and then rest and recover at home. Keep an eye out for the posters at GP surgeries and pharmacies and grab a leaflet for tips on how you can get prepared to treat common conditions at home, and remember to visit to search your symptoms and find services near you.

*For more information about A&E attendance, read NHS England, Transforming urgent and emergency care services in England: Urgent and emergency care review – end of phase 1 report