What to do if you live in Harpenden and need Urgent Medical Care

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By cgillies | Saturday, July 23, 2011, 13:39

What options for urgent medical care are available to Harpenden Residents?  We all dread needing to seek urgent medical care for ourselves or a loved one, there are so many options out there and all of the information can be very overwhelming and confusing.  Below is a list which should help point you in the right direction if you end up in a situation where you need medical care beyond that which is offered by your GP- print this article out and keep it somewhere safe; hopefully you'll never need it, but just in case!

1-     Call NHS Direct- 0845 4647.  NHS Direct offers reassuring advice from healthcare professionals over the phone or online.  They are a good first point of call and will be able to advise you as to whether you need to seek further medical advice.  

2-    If you need a GP out of hours call Herts Urgent Care - the phone number will be on the answer phone of your surgery or ring 03000 333 333. They will most likely direct you to go to the St Albans Out of Hours Centre (HUC OOH) which is at St.Albans City Hospital (Waverley Road, St Albans.)

3-     For Minor Injuries – you can go along to the Minor Injuries Unit, which in the same place at HUC OOH (St.Albans City Hospital, Waverly Road, St. Albans.)  This is a Centre run by nursing staff, there are no doctors there and they cannot see children under the age of 2; they will look at cuts, minor head injuries, sprains etc. The Centre is open 9am – 8pm, 7 days a week with X-rays available 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday.  It's a good idea to call first to get an idea of waiting times and to check that they are able to cater for your needs (01727 897182 or 01727 897694.)

4-    For more than a Minor Injury – There is the GP Urgent Care Centre at Hemel Hempstead Hospital- they treat most injuries or illnesses that are urgent but not life threatening (for example sprains and strains, broken bones, minor burns and scalds, minor head and eye injuries, bites and stings.)  It's a bit like a GP led A&E (and therefore can be very busy), you do not need to book an appointment - just turn up and you will be seen by either a doctor or nurse.

5-    Finally there is A & E- you have a choice of where to go, but which ones are the best ones to take children to? Watford, QE2 (Welwyn) and the Lister (Stevenage) all have separate children's A&E departments; they are a much better choice as the surroundings are far less stressful and the children aren't exposed to 'normal' A&E which can be quite disturbing.   The Children's Emergency Department at Watford and Stevenage provide emergency care for children and young people up to the age of 16; they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The QE2 at Welwyn also offers a specific children's A&E but it is only open from 8am-8pm.

Hopefully you now feel a little more informed as to your choices and will feel more confident deciding what to do if you need to seek medical care which is not offered by your GP.

Many thanks to Dr Kate Smith for the advice she gave to me when writing this article.

Photo from Chris Campbell's Flickr stream



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