By Bianca Soldani
YOU’RE feeling ill (cue sad face). It happens, but when you’re unwell and far from home where do you turn to for help? You can’t speed-dial your mum, or your local doctor for that matter, but there’s no need to reach for the panic button just yet. There are plenty of ways to seek medical advice in London that won’t leave you penniless.
Walk-in centres and the A&E (Accident and Emergency) department of your local hospital both offer medical care without appointments, free for UK residents. As the name suggests, walk-in centres are medical centres which treat patients who walk in off the street. All you need to do is fill out some paperwork on arrival and wait your turn. They’re great for minor complaints or injuries, but more often than not there’s a hefty waiting time – and no, there’s no going and coming back – you need to wait on site to hold you place in the line.
If what ails you is a tad more pressing, the A&E department of a hospital may be a better bet. At the Accident and Emergency they triage incoming patients and see them in order of the seriousness of their complaint – respiratory and heart problems being at the top of the list, minor coughs and sprains further towards the bottom. So if all you’re sporting is a case of the common cold, be prepared for the long haul, you could be sitting pretty for quite some time.
But if waiting is not one of your favourite things, especially when you’re sick, there is one other solution that you may just find more convenient, more local and quite a lot speedier. There are plenty of GP clinics in every London borough, and to access their medical care all you have to do is choose one and register. No more epic lines or sickly waiting rooms for you! It’s as simple as that, a little paperwork and a urine sample and you’re in – they’ll even issue you with an NHS card if you don’t already have one.
Consult the NHS website to find your nearest GP clinic, walk-in or A&E. In the case of an emergency, call an ambulance by dialling 999.