111 or 999

You have all seen it in the news. The NHS and its ambulance service are in crisis at the moment what with a huge rise in the number of patients being brought into hospital and beds therefore being required.

We would like to mention the importance of when to call 999 and when to use alternative pathways.

You may think this is common sense. However, the ambulance service do get called out to many people that could have been cared for in another way. Therefore not only saving critical ambulance time but also being more beneficial to the patient.

The following will depict which pathway you could take if you were injured and unsure what to do:


Calls to this number should be for EMERGENCIES only!

Emergencies are such as:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Persistant, severe, chest pain
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • Other ‘major’ injuries

N:B: Arriving in an ambulance does NOT mean you will get seen any quicker if your condition is not serious so please consider taking yourself to A&E or using an alternative pathway as mentioned below.


You call this number when you need medical help but it is not a life threatening emergency and you need advice on what to do. This number is available 24 hours a day and if the call operator thinks your situation requires an ambulance, they will tell you so and call one. They can also point you in the right direction such as give advice of local minor injuries units, walk in centres or out of hours GP contact information.

Minor Injuries Units (MIU):

These can actually deal with quite a lot of common injuries and by visiting one of these you will save the ambulance service some precious time where it can be used for more serious situations.

Our local MIU is in Milton Road, Portsmouth:

Telephone: 0333 200 1822

You can visit the minor injuries unit for the following:

  • Sprains and Strains
  • Broken bones
  • Wound infections
  • Minor burns and scalds
  • Minor head injuries
  • Animal bites
  • Minor eye injuries
  • Back, shoulder and chest injuries

Walk-in Centres (WIC):

This is where you can see a nurse or a doctor without an appointment.

Our local one is in Portsmouth and is open until 20:00 daily:

Guildhall Walk Healthcare Centre
27 Guildhall Walk

You can visit your local WIC for the following:

  • Infections and rashes
  • Vomiting and Diarrhoea
  • Fractures and lacerations
  • Stomach ache
  • Emergency contraception
  • Hayfever
  • Animal and insect bites
  • Minor cuts and bruises
  • Minor burns and strains
  • Dressing care


If you are unwell and do not need an ambulance then you could make an appointment with your local doctor. If it is out of normal working hours, call 111 who will advise you of the out of hours GP contact.

Out of hours GP can help with a large number of ailments such as urine infections and vomiting and diarrhoea.

Please please please consider a GP or other alternative pathway BEFORE dialling 999.