Health services under pressure

Published: 6 November 2023

Medical staff in hospital accident and emergency department

Health services across Hertfordshire and west Essex are currently experiencing major pressures. 

A&E departments at our hospitals only have the capacity to treat people who have serious, life-threatening or dangerous conditions. If you come to A&E with a minor condition or illness, your care will not be prioritised. You may be sent away to visit a GP practice or speak to a pharmacist.

If you are unwell or injured and not sure where to go please visit or call 111 first. This saves you time and effort and is the best way to ensure NHS staff can treat you effectively if needed.

There are a number of ways to get health advice and care if you, a family member or a friend feel ill:

  • Visit the NHS website – for advice and information on how to look after yourself and your family. It covers thousands of illnesses and conditions.
  • Visit NHS 111 online or call 111 – for free, round 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. You can ring 111 to get straight through to mental health advice.
  • 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 the NHS website to find your nearest open pharmacist.
  • Contact your GP practice or visit their website to get help – GP practices have a range of staff to assess and treat a range of issues. They will arrange for you to speak to or see a GP or another healthcare professional. If you need help outside of normal hours, check your practice website for extended or enhanced access.

Find more information on keeping well.