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When to visit urgent treatment centres (urgent care services)

Urgent treatment centres provide medical help when it’s not a life-threatening emergency.

Other types of urgent care services are called minor injuries units or walk-in centres. They offer some of the same help as urgent treatment centres.

When urgent treatment centres can help instead of A&E

Urgent treatment centres are usually overseen by doctors (sometimes GPs) working with nurses.

If you need one, you can often get tests like an ECG (electrocardiogram), blood tests or an x-ray.

They can diagnose and deal with many of the most common problems people go to A&E for.

These are things like: 

  • broken bones and sprains
  • injuries, cuts and bruises
  • wound dressing
  • stomach pain 
  • coughs, colds and breathing problems
  • vomiting and diarrhoea 
  • skin infections and rashes
  • high temperature (fever) in children and adults
  • mental health problems

If a doctor decides you need a prescription, they can organise one for you. Emergency contraception is also available.

Minor injuries units and walk-in centres

These services can help with many, but not all, of the same problems as urgent treatment centres. If they cannot help with a particular problem, they will direct you to where you can get the right help.

Check if you need an urgent care service 

NHS 111 online can help if you are not sure what service you might need. If an urgent care service is not right for your problem, you will be offered alternative services.

Opening times

Urgent treatment centres

All urgent treatment centres are open for at least 12 hours every day, including bank holidays.

This is usually 8am to 8pm, but some are open earlier and later.

Minor injuries units and walk-in centres

Minor injuries units and walk-in centres have different opening times.

You can check the opening times for the nearest services to you.

How to find an urgent care service

Urgent care services are separate from A&E, although some might be located in the same hospital building.

Letting them know you’re coming

You do not need an appointment to visit most urgent care services.

You do not need to be registered with a GP or have a fixed address to use any urgent care service.

If you use NHS 111 and an urgent care service is recommended, you might be able to send your details so they know you are coming. 

Although this is not a booked appointment, it should save time booking in when you get there.

What you should take with you

You do not need to know your NHS number to use an urgent care service.

It’s helpful if you bring your prescription or any medicines you are taking with you. 

What happens when you get there

If you need help in another language, ask for a British Sign Language (BSL) or other interpreter.

Some urgent treatment centres have a self-assessment tool that you use on arrival. If they know you are coming, you will not need to use it.

The self-assessment tool helps work out what order people should be seen in. The most unwell will be seen first, so sometimes people who arrive after you might be seen before you.

What happens next

You will usually be assessed and treated on site, but you can be referred on to other services if necessary.

If you are registered with one, your GP surgery will be contacted afterwards with an update on why you used the service and any treatment you got while there.

Page last reviewed: 20 December 2022
Next review due: 20 December 2025