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Consider Your Options

Your local NHS offers many different options to ensure you can access the most appropriate care for your health concerns and conditions.

Your local NHS offers many different options to ensure you can access the most appropriate care for your health concerns and conditions.

If you are experiencing a 999 emergency, which means that it is critical or life-threatening, then phone 999 for emergency help.

If your injury or illness is not life-threatening, then you should consider which route is the most appropriate for you.

What are the alternatives?

Medicine Cabinet

Are you prepared?

All homes should have a stocked medicine cabinet to help if you fall ill. Do you have:

  • First aid kit
  • Pain relief
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Anti-diarrhoea tablets
  • Antihistamines

Lower back pain – what to do?

A hot bath or water bottle can ease the pain, or “rub on” treatments and painkillers can also help

You should always speak to your local pharmacist before taking strong painkillers, or medication for an extended period of time.

Contact your GP:

  • If your pain doesn't go away after 3 days
  • If the pain moves to your chest
  • It was caused by a fall 
  • You also have a fever 

Contact NHS 111 if your lower back pain is:

  • Causing numbness, or pins and needles down your legs
  • Cuasing you to lose control of your bowels

Chicken Pox

Managing Chicken Pox at home:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Bathe in cool water and pat skin dry
  • Wear loose clothes

Do not use ibuprofen, as this can cause skin irritation – instead, speak to your local pharmacist about antihistamines to help with itching.

Chicken Pox – when to call your GP

  • If your child is dehydrated
  • The skin around blisters is hot or painful
  • You’re pregnant
  • You have a weakened immune system
  • You’re not sure it is chicken pox
  • You think your new born has chicken pox


You can usually treat it with simple changes to your diet and lifestyle such as eating foods high in fibre and drinking more water. Speak to your pharmacist if these changes are not helping – they can suggest suitable medication to help you go to the toilet.

Constipation is common & affects people of all ages, but when should you seek help from your GP?

  • if you have been constipated for 6 weeks or more
  • you start vomiting
  • your tummy becomes more swollen
  • unexplained weight loss
  • you’re over 50 and have never been constipated before


You can treat a cough at home by trying simple home remedies, such as hot water with honey and lemon juice. Over the counter lozenges also help with symptoms.

Have a cough and don’t know when to seek urgent advice?
Contact NHS 111 if:

  • you have choked on something
  • you cough up blood
  • you also have chest or shoulder pain
  • difficulties breathing
  • new swelling anywhere on your head or neck

New cough? When to speak to your GP 

  • if you’ve had a cough for more than 3 weeks
  • unexplained weight loss over a period of 6 weeks


Headaches can be managed at home by drinking plenty of water, eating regular meals, avoiding alcohol or caffeine, and getting enough sleep.

Speak to your pharmacist about painkillers, as some can cause headaches

When to get in touch with NHS 111 about a headache:

  • you vomit for no reason
  • you develop a stiff neck
  • have suffered a blow to the head
  • dizziness
  • trouble looking towards bright light
  • pain when chewing
  • tender scalp
  • change in speech

Heartburn/ indegestion

It helps to avoid fatty and fried meals, or large meals late in the day. Avoiding carbonated drinks, coffee and alcohol can also help. You can buy antacids over the counter to help neutralize the acid in your stomach. Heartburn and indigestion are common problems, but if your symptoms are getting worse, call NHS 111 or go online at 111.nhs.uk for help and advice

Sore throat

Sore throats can be treated at home by eating cool, soft food, or drinking cool or warm drinks.Sucking lozenges or ice cubes can also help to soothe a sore throat. Painkillers can help to relieve symptoms of a sore throat – speak to your local pharmacist who can help advise on the best treatment.

If you are finding it difficult to breathe, are struggling to drink enough to stay hydrated, or have a voice that has become muffled, seek advice from your GP

Seek urgent care through NHS 111 if you’re drooling and are finding it hard to swallow.

Speak to your GP if you have had a sore throat for longer than 2 weeks, have sore throats frequently that do not respond to painkillers, or have a persistent temperature over 38C.

Sprains and Strains

Sprain or strain? Remember PRICE:
Protect the limb
Ice the area
Compression bandages help
Elevate the limb

Read more here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sprains-and-strains/

You may need medical help if you can’t move an injured joint, your skin feels numb over the affected area, or there are no improvements to your injury in 3-4 days

Read more about #SprainsAndStrains here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sprains-and-strains/

Your local high street Pharmacy is a good place to start if you have a minor ailment such as a headache, cough or sore throat. Pharmacists are qualified to give advice and dispense medicine for a range of illnesses including colds, stomach upsets, skin conditions and much more. Pharmacists can provide many treatments ‘over the counter’ to help you get better at home.

You don’t need to make an appointment, or even make a purchase to speak with them in confidence in a private consultation area.

Find your local Pharmacy here:

Find a Pharmacy - NHS

List of Pharmacies within Warrington HWB’s Footprint

Repeat prescriptions

If you take medicine regularly, you’ll usually have a repeat prescription

This means you can order your medication when you need it without having to see a GP until your next medicine review

Find out more: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/online-services/how-to-order-a-repeat-prescription/

"Care at the Chemist"

“Care at the Chemist” is a minor aliments scheme within Halton, which means that eligible patients can receive advice and treatment for a range of conditions direct from their pharmacists rather than going to their GP.

If you don’t pay for prescriptions, then any medication provided under the scheme will be free of charge.

Your GP Practice is open, and you can contact them online, through the NHS App or by phone so you can be assessed. If you need a face-to-face appointment, you will be given one.

Measures have been put in place to protect patients and staff from COVID-19, so it is safe to attend. You can also call any GP Surgery to get emergency treatment for up to 14 days if you are not registered with a GP or are away from home.

Find out more about GP Appointments and Bookings


We also have three excellent Urgent Treatment Centres available across Widnes, Runcorn and St Helens. Urgent Treatment Centres are GP-led and are equipped to diagnose and deal with many of the most common ailments people attend A&E for.

Widnes Urgent Treatment

Centre Oaks Place, Caldwell Road, Widnes, WA8 7GD

Open 8:00am – 9:00pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year

Runcorn Urgent Treatment Centre

The Nightingale Building, Hospital Way, Palacefields, Runcorn, WA7 2DA

Open 8:00am – 9:0pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year

Residents of Warrington can catch a free shuttle bus from Warrington Hospital to Halton Hospital to access the on-site Urgent Treatment Centre.

St Helens Urgent Treatment Centre

The Millennium Centre, Corporate Street, St Helens, WA10 1HJ

Open 7:00am – 10:00pm Monday – Saturday and 9:00pm – 10:00pm Sunday and Bank Holidays

Urgent Treatment Centres have an x-ray department, and you can be seen here for a wide range of issues that require urgent treatment, but are not life-threatening, such as:

  • Minor cuts or wounds
  • Bites, stings, rashes and allergic reactions
  • Minor burns and scalds
  • Sprains, strains and joint pains
  • Ear or eye injuries and infections

You do not need to make an appointment, just turn up and you will be seen, often with a much shorter waiting time than visiting the A&E Hospital Department.

If you need urgent medical advice and are not sure which is the best place for you, then please visit http://111.nhs.uk or call 111 free.

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you’re deaf and want to use the phone service, you can use the NHS 111 British Sign Language Service or you can call 18001 111 on a textphone.

You will answer questions about your symptoms on the website, or by speaking with a fully trained advisor on the phone. Depending on the situation, you will:

Find out what local service can help you

  • Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
  • Get a face-to-face appointment if you need one
  • Be given an arrival time if you need to go to A&E (this might mean you spend less time in A&E)
  • Be told how to get any medicine you need
  • Get self-care advice

Find out more about NHS 111

Understand how NHS 111 works

How NHS 111 Online works


The Out of Hours Service is available 6:30pm – 8:00am on weekdays and 24 hours at weekends and Bank Holidays.

Patients can access the service by contacting NHS 111.

All patients received to the service will be triaged by a GP over the phone. A clinical decision will then be made about the medical care each patient requires. This consultation may result in a face-to-face consultation or a home visit from one of the service’s GPs.

Halton’s Out of Hours Service is located out of the Runcorn Urgent Treatment Centre.

Feeling low, overwhelmed or anxious?

You can get mental health support and advice by texting the word REACH to 85258. The text service is available 24/7 and offers free and confidentail support to adults, children and young people who can be put in touch with a trained volunteer. 

If someone is experiencing a mental health crisis you can contact the local mental crisis line 24/7 on freephone 0800 051 1508. This service, provided by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, is for all ages - children, young people and adults.

Widnes Urgent Treatment Centre

Widnes Urgent Treatment Centre is open for children with fevers and other minor injuries or illness that require urgent attention, but are not life-threatening.

Widnes Urgent Treatment Centre

Oaks Place, Caldwell Road, Widnes, WA8 7GD

Open 8:00am – 9:00pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year

Minor Ailments Scheme

Halton also offer a Minor Ailment Scheme where parents can get Calpol, Paracetamol and various other medications for free where necessary. Please speak with your local pharmacy for more information.

Find your local Pharmacy here: Find a Pharmacy - NHS