Use the right service

How to use your health services 

We’re asking the residents of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley to help us, help YOU to stay well. 

If you, or a loved one feels unwell or needs advice, using the right service can prevent an illness from getting worse and enable you to feel better sooner.

Speak to a pharmacist

Pharmacists are medically trained and can give you expert advice on medicines and how they work. They can also help you to decide whether you'll need to see a doctor. You don't need an appointment and you won't even be asked to make a purchase. Every pharmacy also has a private consultation area for you to talk about your symptoms in private if you prefer.

Common complaints which can be treated at home with advice from the pharmacist include:

  • Skin conditions, such as mild acne and mild eczema
  • Coughs and colds including nasal congestion and sore throats
  • Minor cuts and bruises
  • Constipation and haemorrhoids (piles)
  • Hay fever and allergies
  • Aches, pains, such as headaches, earaches and backaches
  • Indigestion, diarrhoea and threadworms
  • Period pain and thrush
  • Warts and verrucas, mouth ulcer and cold sores
  • Athletes foot
  • Nappy rash and teething 

Call NHS 111 

If you think that you may need to see a doctor in the evening, over the weekend or on a bank holiday for something which you feel cannot wait, call 111.

Trained call handlers will assess your symptoms and put you directly in touch with those who can help; for example, an out-of-hours doctor, a district nurse or an emergency dentist or it may be something as simple as a 24 hour pharmacy. NHS 111 can also send an ambulance, without delay, if required.

You should use the NHS 111 service if:

  • you need medical help fast, but it's not a 999 emergency
  • you think you need to go to A&E or another NHS urgent care service
  • you don't know who to call for medical help or you don't have a GP to call
  • you require health information or reassurance about what to do next 

For less urgent health needs, you should still contact your GP (family doctor) in the usual way.
Calls to 111 are free from landlines and mobile phones and the service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Your GP

GPs (family doctors) provide a range of services including medical advice, examinations, prescriptions and care for long term conditions, chronic pain and persistent symptoms. 

A call to 111 will direct you to the Out of Hours doctors and care services.

GP Extended Access

If you are unable to get an appointment at your GP at a time that's convienent for you, ask for the GP Extended Access (GPEA) Service. Appointments are available from 8am–8pm, 7 days a week, including bank holidays. All appointments must be booked in advance at your GP practice.

999 in an emergency 

Please think before you dial 999. The ambulance service is for emergencies and life-threatening situations only. If ambulance crews are called out to those suffering minor illnesses, they cannot get to those who really need their help.

The Emergency Department (A&E) is for serious, life-threatening injuries and illnesses that need urgent medical attention.

These include:

  • loss of consciousness
  • serious blood loss
  • choking, severe chest pain or breathing difficulty
  • serious burns
  • strokes and persistent fits

People with these types of serious conditions will be treated before those with minor complaints, which would be more appropriately helped by calling 111.

Remember, unless it is an emergency, anyone with symptoms of vomiting or diarrhoea should not visit NHS buildings until 48 hours after the symptoms have cleared. Good hand hygiene at all times helps reduce the risk of spreading infection.

You can also find health advice online at  – an early enquiry can help prevent a crisis later. Choosing the right service helps to reduce the pressure on emergency services and ensure that they are available for those who really need them. 

Tell us what you think? 

The 'Use The Right Service' campaign aims to help residents of Lewisham access the correct health and care services. The publicity includes leaflets, posters, websites, emails and social media. We would like to request your help in monitoring how successfully we have reached people and would be grateful if you could spare a couple of minutes to complete our survey.