Residents with minor illnesses urged to seek alternatives to Darent Valley Hospital as emergency services are under pressure

The NHS in north Kent is currently experiencing significant pressure, with very high levels of demand at emergency services and expected high demand on out-of-hours services – with Darent Valley Hospital seeing more patients than usual.

The local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for planning and buying local NHS services, are supporting Darent Valley Hospital’s senior clinicians, and asking people with minor illnesses or non-life threatening conditions to seek alternative treatment and use the NHS 111 if they are not sure what health service they need.

The free Health Help Now website and app enables people to check their symptoms and search for local health services in Kent and Medway. As well as recommending options for treatment, it will provide opening hours of pharmacies and walk-in centres, and provides maps and directions.

Visit http://kent.healthhelpnow.nhs.uk/ or the app store. Further healthcare advice is also available at www.nhs.uk/staywell

NHS 111
If you don’t have internet access or a smartphone, and need health help when it’s not an emergency, NHS 111 can give you free health advice, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can also seek advice from pharmacists and take advantage of NHS walk-in centres and minor injury units which are open most days except Christmas day.

Minor injury units and walk-in centres
Trained nurses at minor injury units (MIUs) can assess and treat cuts, sprains, minor burns, minor dislocations of the fingers and toes, minor eye injuries and remove foreign bodies from, for example, ears and noses.

MIUs cannot treat babies under one year old. MIUs are open every day of the year.

  • Gravesham Community Hospital: Bath Street, Gravesend, DA11 0DG. Phone: 01474 360816. Open 8am to 8pm, every day of the year.
  • Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital: Bell Road, Sittingbourne, ME10 4DT. Phone: 01795 418300. Open 9am to 9pm, every day of the year
  • Sheppey Community Hospital: Plover Road, Minster, ME12 3LT. Phone: 01795 879100. Open 9am to 9pm, every day of the year.

GP-led Walk in Centre
Walk-in centres are staffed by health professionals that will see you without an appointment if you have an urgent concern.

Open from 8am-8pm and you don’t need an appointment to see a GP or nurse and the nearest centre is in Northfleet:

  • White Horse GP Walk-in Centre*, Vale Road, Northfleet, Kent DA11 8BZ Phone: 0300 0300 000. *Open every day except Christmas Day and Easter Sunday

Dentists
For emergency dental care, contact your own dentist first. At evenings, weekends and bank holidays (8.30am to 1.25pm) you can call DentaLine on 01634 890300.

Mental health support
Free confidential emotional advice and guidance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from the Mental Health Matters helpline on 0800 107 0160. The Samaritans are also there to listen at any time of day or night and can be reached by dialling 116 123.

A spokesperson for Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG said: “With very cold weather on the horizon and higher than usual levels of demand, the system is under pressure and priority is being given to those patients who arrive at the hospital with urgent life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

“We are urging residents to consider their options before visiting the Emergency Department, which is currently experiencing extremely high levels of attendance.

“Patients attending with a minor illness are likely to experience an extremely long wait, with priority being given to those people who need it most.

“The minor injury units in Gravesend, Sittingbourne and Sheppey are open at weekends, and patients can walk in between 8am-8pm in Gravesend, and 9am-9pm in Sittingbourne and Sheppey.

“GP-led walk-in centres are also open at weekends in Northfleet, Gillingham and Sheppey. (Full details and opening times are available via the Health Help Now website: http://kent.healthhelpnow.nhs.uk/ )

“Pharmacists are medicines experts who can advise on the treatment of a range of minor ailments and many are open at late and at weekends.”