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Hertfordshire NHS under great pressure

Health services across Hertfordshire are experiencing major pressures this week and West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is working extremely hard in collaboration with NHS partners to meet the demand for services. You can help to protect essential hospital services by thinking carefully before coming to the accident and emergency (A&E) department at Watford General Hospital.

Dr Nicolas Small, Chair of Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Due to extreme demand, the accident and emergency departments at our hospitals across Hertfordshire only have the capacity to treat people who have serious, life-threatening or dangerous conditions; ambulances should only be called in genuine emergencies. If you call 999 for an ambulance and your life is not at risk, you could endanger the life of another person in desperate need of emergency care.”

For immediate life-threatening emergencies, serious injuries, chest pain or significant blood loss always dial 999. If you are not sure which is the right service to use if you are feeling unwell, the best advice is to call NHS 111 which is available free from landlines and mobiles around the clock, 365 days a year.

The NHS 111 service is supported by a team of doctors, nurses, paramedics and pharmacists. They can advise you on the help you need and even book you an appointment when your own GP is closed. The adviser will direct you to your nearest service including late-opening pharmacies, out of hours GP services, minor injuries units, mental health help or urgent treatment centres. If you’re really unwell, they can arrange an ambulance for you.

Also consider using alternative services instead of A&E. The Hemel Hempstead Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) is open 8am-10pm every day and the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at St Albans City Hospital is open 9am-8pm every day. The UTC and the MIU both treat minor injuries for adults and children, such as: sprains and strains, cuts and minor burns, broken bones and fractures, and bites and stings.

The UTC at Hemel Hempstead also treats minor illness for adults and children that could be seen by a GP, such as sore throat and fever.

Don’t forget that you can buy a wide range of basic medicines to treat minor illnesses including coughs, colds and flu from your local pharmacy or shop. Pharmacists can also offer trusted advice on a range of issues whether it’s a cough or managing a long-term condition. They are highly trained and will tell you if something needs more urgent medical attention.

For health advice and care if you feel ill:

Check the NHS website – for advice and information on how to look after yourself and your family. It covers thousands of illnesses and conditions:

Phone NHS 111 – for free, around the clock help when your GP is closed, when it’s an urgent but not a life-threatening 999 situation, or if you are unsure where to go to get the right help for your medical condition.

Visit a pharmacist – for expert advice and low-cost medicines to ease your symptoms and help treat your condition. Every area has a late opening pharmacy and most have consulting rooms where you can ask for advice in private. Go to to find your nearest open pharmacist.

Make a GP or nurse appointment – GP practices have a limited number of slots available each day for those who need to be seen urgently. When you call, you may be offered an appointment with a practice nurse, if this is more appropriate.

GP extended hours service – an extended hours service for routine or non-urgent appointments is available every day of the week across west Hertfordshire as detailed below. Please call your surgery to make an appointment and you will be advised where to go.

St Albans and Harpenden:
Monday to Friday, 18.30-20.00
Saturday, 08.30-17.00
Sunday, 09.00-13.00

Watford and Three Rivers:
Monday to Friday, 18.30-20.00
Saturday, 09.00-13.00 and 15.00-19.00
Sunday, 09.00-13.00

Monday to Friday, 16.30-21.30
Saturday, 09.00-13.00 and 14.00-18.00
Sunday, 09.00-13.00

Monday to Thursday, 18.30-20.00
Friday, 18.30-21.30
Saturday, 08.00-11.00
Sunday, 08.00-09.30




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