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Emergency and urgent care services

NHS walk-in centres

NHS walk-in centres (WICs) offer convenient access to a range of treatments. WICs are managed by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). There are around 7 million attendances at type 3 A&E services (i.e WICs, UCCs and MIUs) in England, dealing with minor illnesses and injuries.

These include:

  • infections and rashes
  • blood pressure checks
  • fractures and lacerations
  • emergency contraception and advice
  • stomach aches
  • vomiting and diarrhoea
  • hay fever
  • insect and animal bites
  • stitches (sutures)
  • dressing care
  • minor cuts and bruises
  • minor burns and strains
  • stop smoking support 

For more information about any of the conditions listed above visit the Health A-Z section on this site.

NHS WICs are usually managed by a nurse and are available to everyone. Patients do not need an appointment. Most centres are open 365 days a year and outside office hours. Some newly opened centres may offer different opening hours during their first few months.

They have proved to be a successful complementary service to traditional GP and A&E services. Some NHS WICs offer access to doctors as well as nurses. However, they are not designed for treating long-term conditions or immediately life-threatening problems.

Some WICs and minor injuries units (MIUs) may not treat young children. The decision lies with the WIC or MIU and is based on the capacity, resource or skill levels available. Please contact your local WIC or MIU in advance if you are not sure if you or your child can be treated there.

Comments

The 26 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Marianneodell said on 14 September 2014

Wow! I'm in the USA and I thought WE had issues with our healthcare system!

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Finger said on 31 July 2014

Just thought I'd share my experience to avoid others wasting their time with walk in centres.

The walk in centre lists fractures as one of the injuries they can treat, however this is not always true.

I visited the Derby walk in centre with a suspected fracture and they informed me that they didn't have x-ray facilities.

I then travelled to Ilkeston MIU, and they informed me that they can only do x-ray's between the hours of 9-5.

Looks like it will be A&E for me after all! Very poor level service and information.

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pinkpunk said on 21 June 2014

What I didn't realise is that at my local 'walk-in-centre' you need an appointment and they turn you away if you just turn up if the appointments are gone. You cannot book your 'appointment' over the phone either! Had this situation when my partner was really suffering. Hardly a walk-in service, is it?? Dreadful!

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Proud of the NHS said on 11 June 2014

I would like to add my support for the recent comments about how difficult it is to get information about the nearest walk-in centre. I needed to attend a walk-in centre over the Easter Bank Holiday and had to travel over 30 miles because this was the only centre I had been able to gather any information about- in fact there is one less than 8 miles away. Surely it would be simple enough to have a facility on this webpage to find the nearest walk-in centre in the same way that there is a facility to find the nearest urgent care services.

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VK126 said on 04 May 2014

I can only repeat and therefore underline what the previous reviewer said:
I have googled NHS walk in centres expecting to be directed to a page where I could find a list if the centres in my area. I would have thought that 99% of people who do this search are looking for the one closest to them. So how is it that I am then directed to urgent care and A&E's in my area when the NHS is trying to discourage those with minor ailments visiting these centres that are set up for more serious complaints.
My 3-year old needs treatment for (prob bacterial) conjunctivitis on a bank holiday monday, but A&E still doesn't seem the right place to go to. Please could someone look at the site and make it easy for people to find the last remaining centres for non critical care when it is impossible to see a gp at the weekend and difficult to get an appointment in the week.

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SueRussell said on 27 April 2014

I have googled NHS walk in centres expecting to be directed to a page where I could find a list if the centres in my area. I would have thought that 99% of people who do this search are looking for the one closest to them. So how is it that I am then directed to urgent care and A&E's in my area when the NHS is trying to discourage those with minor ailments visiting these centres that are set up for more serious complaints. Of course, I realise that it is stupid of me to fall ill at a weekend but please could someone look at the site and make it easy for people to find the last remaining centres for non critical care when it is impossible to see a gp at the weekend and difficult to get an appointment in the week.

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xolo said on 10 April 2014

I went yesterday as my left ear has been playing up. I can't hear out of it very well, it's painful and has been leaking for almost a week. I do indeed have an inner ear infection but my eardrum has burst.

I went because it's been going on longer than a week and as the advice suggested, I wanted to see my GP but the earliest I could see a doctor was after Easter. So I went to the walk in center at Broadmead in Bristol and it was pretty good, I waited about 20 minutes to see a nurse and she was quite thorough, had a look, she winced as it's a mess and prescribed me some antibiotics as it was necessary in my case.

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Lid7 said on 03 March 2014

[2/2]

Last week, I had a little dental abscess and I went to the NHS dentist: 500mg amoxicillin. But the pain was horrible and the abscess was growing more and more. German doctor friend told me I needed more dose and probably 48 hours in the hospital with antibiotics intravenous. I went to my GP without appointment (I wasn't going two years ago). 6:15 pm, my GP wasn't working at evening time then I insist on other doctor because it's a emergency. No, they don't have more appointments, I can have an appointment with my GP 36 hours later or I can go to a walk-in centre at that moment. 6:45pm, I come to the centre (they close at 8pm) and I show my face and tell them about my problem: "we don't get more patients today without appointment". I beg them because the pain is unbearable and the swelling is getting bigger. They say me that I can come back tomorrow morning with my emergency. Incredible! Like it was a simple cold!

In my case, I'm luck because my brother and other doctors can help me from Spain. I could try to go to the hospital but it was the second place with a "NO" and I was really tired (48 hours without sleeping), too much pain... so a doctor and my brother called me "Take double doses and tomorrow morning we send you express parcel with more antibiotics and pills for the pain".

Do you think that is the solution in a developed country?

I would like to think that's because I'm foreign but other people say me that's is really common, such usual... "if you are dying then it's different". Is a joke? I can't think so, it seem unbelievable!

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Lid7 said on 03 March 2014

[1/2]

Yes, Betis, I think the same. Sorry about my English too.

Each time I've used the NHS, I thought I was in the Third World. Negative experience, 3 in total during the last 2 years.

First time, 4 hours in a hospital, a facial paralysis, just waiting and the doctor was reading a medical article, that was all. Why did I have it? That's the question, no diagnostis tests so I'll never know the cause. Corticosteroids and home. I did physiotherapy via internet (thanks to spanish physiotherapist).

Twice, one month later. I completely twisted my thumb finger. I went to my NHS's GP and the doctor's prescription was 400mg ibuprofen in a little paper (the corner of a DIN A4). That was all even though nothing and that, it was the same. I had pain, bruising, swelling, inability to move the finger... My brother is spanish nurse, he called me and said me "You insist on a MRI, it's probably three degree sprain". Three days later, doctor told me "it's soon, maybe X-Ray" (I don't know for what, it wasn't a fracture). Few weeks later I went to know what happened with the result and to insist on again in the MRI. The rude and coarse recepcionist answered me "Did the doctor call you? If not, you have nothing". Finally, I went to Spain 4 months later for a MRI and the diagnostic: "too late". Now, when I try to touch my little finger with my thumb finger, my forefinger bends itself. Quirurgical solution can be worst then I'll have a "magic forefinger" my whole life.

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Betis said on 22 January 2014

First of all, sorry about my English.

I am from Spain. Started working for an English company last week.

My throat is getting worse each day.

Spain may be the most corrupt and have the worst politicians in Europe. So I thought that the health system in England should be better than the Spanish one.

Today I have learned that the NHS is quite worse than the spanish health system. I could not believe it. Even if you pay a private health company, it is nearly impossible to access to a medical attention.

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Wfreeman said on 11 October 2013

Yesterday I was too ill to walk in to the bristol broadmead walk in centre. Today I felt slightly better so I struggled in, but the walk in centre tell me I'm not Ill enough for them to see me! I'll have to wait however many days until my gp can see me, more suffering and more time off work at risk to my job security, when all it probably needs is ten minutes and a course of antibiotics. What is the point of a walk in centre that wont see you if youre well enough to walk in?!

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Schnabel said on 18 August 2013

It does not seem possible or is not obvious to find out on the webpages WHERE the Walk in Centres are. Any searches seem to take you to A&E for urgent care. Is the NHS encouraging the use of A&E rather than WiC?

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Ross88 said on 29 July 2013

Hi Guys, I have just tried to book an appointment with my GP but have been unable to get an appointment within 3 weeks! I am planning on heading to a walk in center to get a blood pressure test as my heart is playing up. I have a feeling that they are going to take one look at me and say wait for your GP as I am a triathlete and so shouldn't have any heart problems. Do you think I should wait around and insist that they give me a blood pressure test?

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Da_Privateer said on 09 July 2013

I have a simple problem, I'm a BUPA member and I require a referral letter to see a consultant. The next appointment available to see my GP is in 8 days time, and BUPA tell me that most Walk In Centres will give me a referral letter.

I contact Holly Hall WIC via telephone, they say that if I turn up, I will be able to see a GP who can provide a simple letter referring me to a consultant that I can then use to invoke the BUPA process.

I turn up at Holly Hall WIC not more than 10 minutes after calling them, fill out their form and wait. I see a nurse standing behind the reception counter and hear her say to the receptionist, and I quote "Oooo Noooo.... We don't do THOSE here"

I contacted BUPA again, and they do assure me that many WIC's do offer referral letters, so my question is....

Why is there no uniformity in the services offered by WIC's? and why was I told they they would be able to refer me to a specialist when I rang, and not when I turned up?

People take out private medical insurance because of the bad service and ridiculous waiting times offered by the NHS, private patients require only one thing from the NHS, and that's the referral letter. Why make it so hard to obtain one?

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LittleCharlie said on 19 May 2013

Absolutely crazy. Went to a walk in centre on a Sunday because I can never get a same appointment at my GP's (and I'm freelance and crazy busy anyway) and was turned away and told to go and see my GP in a few weeks time.

I wouldn't mind but the receptionist humiliated me in front of other patients in the queue. She said she wouldn't mind a bit of 'unexplained weight loss' so I pointed out I've lost over 10% of my body weight in under 10 days without trying. She said that I should have come sooner and therefore should see my GP in a few weeks when I can get an appointment with them!?!

If the walk in centres cannot see you for problems, then what is the point of having them? They suggest on their websites that they're a convenient replacement for a GP, but they're not. All they seem to do is give out aspirin and condoms and run stop smoking clinics.

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Lauren1997 said on 03 April 2013

I am 14 years old and want to be a doctor. I haven't had much experience of the NHS, (luckily!) but to all you who are complaining about these walk in centres;
1. Be grateful they are trying. Would you like to have no and have no healthcare at all? Constructive criticism is best.
2. If you think the NHS is useless; watch Great Ormond Street Season 2 on YouTube and then come and tell me and all the hardworking dedicated staff working behind the NHS that they and the NHS is useless.
3. Wait 'till the day the NHS saves your or your loved ones life. Yeah they lose a few on the way, but think where we'd be without it.
Thanks, :)

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spruce27 said on 01 March 2013

PS: I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. This is the NHS after all. Does anything work? No one in charge. Out of control. We pay for it but we get the run-around.

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BigBrownBear said on 27 February 2013

I was under the impression the clue in a name walk-in was you could just do that and see a GP but when I tried was told no appointments until the next day. No different to my own GP! The write up of this service says urgent cases will be seen same day but receptionist didnt ask what the problem was and didnt say where to go for care so left me to decide about going to A&E!! I thought GP's didnt want patients to do that because they get charged!! So that walk-in is a waste of time its become a normal GP service that works at weekends. Gone are the days of out of hours GP's, instead we have the new 111 service which took ages to answer and I was greeted with what sounded like a 16 yr old with a tick box script. For anyone who has ever had a blood clot or angina this was a red rag to a bull, do not pass go, straight to A&E!!! Totally unnecessary when you know you need a GP and cant wait till the next day but you dont need to waste A&E's time. So having convinced them of that I got a call back from a nurse who agreed a GP would call in another 30 mins. I then get another call from an appointment making centre (all no doubt on double bubble as its Sunday) telling me to go to my nearest Hospital in 3 hours! I cant help thinking that the old system of ringing OFO GP and getting a call back from a Doc who turned up 20 minutes later at your home was not only cheaper but more convenient and less bug spreading than what we have now.Not impressed with anything thats on offer for out of hours at the moment other than the lovely GP I ended up seeing in the end. Talk about hoops to jump through though, or perhaps thats the point, they want you to just give up. Judging by my experience those that are really sick could get missed or waste lots of time before they are seen and people not needing to be seen will not be screened out. If this is some CCG's idea of cost cutting, not sure we will have much money left for anything else!

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George Formby said on 02 February 2013

As has been mentioned by others, this is the walk-in centres page, but it doesn't seem to be possible to find walk-in centres. :-(

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tawny owl said on 18 January 2013

This site is a shambles:

* there's no search facility for walk-in centres on the WIC page, only for GP, pharmacy, and urgent care (x2) which lists two hospitals;

* the black invitation-to-find-out-more box on the right isn't a link at all;

* the WIC search facility on an other page said there's no WIC within 50 miles (the max. searchable distance) of me in Calne, Wilts; but my GP's website lists four.

I even had to change the browser string to Internet Explorer because the site doesn't work with Opera but there's no reason at all why it shouldn't. Shambolic.

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wookey said on 23 December 2012

To identify the nearest walk in clinic a map showing their location would be most useful to identify the nearest in travel time; ie car, bus train etc. Also if the location of the patient is uncertain.

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Wanstronian said on 20 December 2012

I don't think the list is up to date. This is infuriating as I really need to know where my nearest centre is!

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pleaseupdate said on 06 September 2012

Put in Exeter post code and it gave Weymouth as the nearest walk-in centre! There are two in Exeter to my knowledge. This is important information, which needs to be accurate, please correct/update ASAP.

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cudknot4 said on 21 April 2012

My walk in centre at Apley castle, Telford, is no longer operating as one as they have introduced an appointments system. I am registered there, and they struggle with volume. I don't blame them, just the governments past and present who have not expanded services enough to keep up with the influx of migrants etc. The NHS is chaotic if you want a hospital appointment then you have to wait even to go on the waiting list so that their figures meet government targets. This is not happening, it is all hidden now. I pray that I never fall seriously ill ever again!

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DomZRoss said on 15 December 2011

Please can you update the Walk In locations

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r1b1c7 said on 04 December 2011

about 18 monthsago I was stung by a fish called a weever. It left a bit of its spine in my foot so I thought a walk0-in centre would be the place to sort this. I looked up the nearest on the web and was told it was in North Mid. I went there to be told it had recently moved to Edmonton. Went to Edmonton where a nice doctor took out the spine. Job done. On this cite I now learn that the Edmonton walk-in centre, not very old, has now closed and the nearest wlak-in centre is now in North Finchley 3.3 miles and 2 bus rides from me - an hour away. Not only that but there are no walk-in centres in Enfield at all. This is just one more aspect of the NHS which is chaotic. Close a centre, move services to another one, close that and move the service miles away. All in 18 months. I know it will have been the PCT which wrought this particular chaos but will it be better when GPs are in charge. I think not. My GP surgery cannot manage itself properly let alone the rest of the rest of the NHS. In 5 years time Britain may not be as unsafe a place to be ill as the USA but it will be a lot worse than it has been in the recent past.

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Page last reviewed: 27/02/2013

Next review due: 27/02/2015

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