Doctors from Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have joined forces with colleagues from North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to encourage people with minor ailments to use the right NHS services this season after black status was announced two days in a row at St Peter’s A&E department.

Ashford and St Peter’s Deputy Chief Executive, Valerie Bartlett said: “The last couple of days have been the busiest days in our history. Sunday 30 November saw 318 people attending A&E and yesterday saw 323. Our staff continue to work really hard to manage these pressures and sudden spikes in demand and we are really proud of the way they work on behalf of our patients. As a Trust, we continue to work proactively with our community and social care colleagues particularly on securing the right support for patients when they are discharged from hospital. We are also working closely with our commissioning partners to find ways to reduce overall pressure on local health services, particularly over the winter period.”

A&E should only be for people with serious and life-threatening emergencies, but figures show that on any given day 40-60% of patients that attend A&E are discharged within two hours and could have been better treated through a different NHS service.

Dr Liz Lawn, Clinical Chair of North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Every year, we find people visiting A&E because they are feeling mildly unwell, have a cough, cold, minor cut or other common ailment. If you have a condition that isn’t life-threatening, there are a wide range of NHS services available locally, such as NHS 111,local pharmacies, GPs or local NHS Walk-in centres where you can often receive faster and more appropriate treatment.”

“If you know someone who is frail or elderly or has an existing health problem and becomes unwell, encourage them to seek early advice, go to their local pharmacy or GP before one problem leads to another and they end up in hospital.

“During the colder winter months, older people in particular should keep warm and comfortable and have regular hot meals and drinks. If you become ill, stay at home and get plenty of rest, and if you are on your own, let a friend or neighbour know you are unwell.”

Dr Helen Cannon, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust added, “Many people think A&E is the quick and easy option, but more often than not, coming to hospital emergency departments will mean longer waits in busy and crowded waiting rooms. Our A&E department at St Peter’s is already experiencing some very busy days this winter, with average waits of between 2 ½ - 3 hours for non-emergencies. In most cases, unless you really are an emergency, you are likely to be seen more quickly elsewhere.”

Instead of going to A&E for minor ailments, during the winter period, there are a range of options available to North West Surrey residents when it’s urgent but not an emergency:


NHS 111

NHS 111 is a free service available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Trained advisors and medical staff will assess your condition on the phone and point you to the right service for fast advice and support.


Local Pharmacies

Local pharmacies offer advice and medicines for a range of common conditions, such as coughs, colds and headaches, without the need for an appointment. Free emergency contraception is also available at some local pharmacies.



Your GP is best placed to know your medical history, and many local GP surgeries are now offering evening and Saturday appointments.


NHS Walk-in Centres

Cuts, sprains, strains, eye infections and minor burns/scalds are just a few of the conditions that can be treated at these centres in Ashford, Weybridge or Woking. Find your nearest centre and opening times at


Opening times:

Weybridge Hospital

Church Street, KT13 8DY
Monday to Friday: 7am to 7:30pm
Weekends and banks holidays: 9am to 4pm.
(X-ray is available Monday to Friday 8:45am to 4:30pm.)
Woking Hospital Heathside Road, GU22 7HS
Monday to Friday: 7am to 7:30pm
Weekends and banks holidays: 9am to 7pm.
(X-ray is available Monday to Friday 9am to 4:45pm.)
Ashford Hospital London Road, TW15 3FE
8am -10pm, 365 days of the year.



A range of common illnesses and injuries can be treated at home simply by combining a well-stocked medicine cabinet with plenty of rest.


Keep an eye out for the yellow men popping at various locations around North West Surrey this winter, with more advice and guidance on the most appropriate NHS services to use when it’s urgent but not an emergency.