How to use your health services

Traditionally, urgent and emergency cases rise during the winter months with hospitals, GPs and community nursing teams all experiencing increased workloads. However, there are a range of healthcare services available to help you find the right expert care to meet your needs. Choosing the service most appropriate to your symptoms will help to ensure that you receive the right treatment in the right place at the right time.

You should therefore select from the most appropriate service as below:


Self-care is the best choice to treat most minor illnesses, ailments and injuries. A range of common illnesses such as aches and pains, coughs, colds, upset stomachs and sore throats can be treated with over the counter medicines and plenty of rest. Remember, whether treated or not, most of these will get better.

More information is available at 

Your local Pharmacy

Your local pharmacist can provide confidential, expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses such as coughs and colds without you having to wait for a GP appointment.

Your local GP surgery

Contact your GP for medical advice regarding medical complaints and/or pain.

Minor Injury Units

A Minor Injury Unit can treat injuries that are not critical or life threatening, such as: cuts/wounds, limb injuries, bites, burns/scalds, eye injuries and chemical splashes.

Minor Injury Units operate at Antrim Area Hospital and Mid Ulster Hospitals, Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm, excluding public holidays.

Please note: the Minor Injury Unit at Whiteabbey Hospital is temporarily closed. A consultation on the future of the unit ran from September to December 2015. The outcome of this consultation was approved by Trust Board in January 2016 and was subsequently submitted for approval to the regional Health and Social Care Board.

Out of hours – Dalriada Urgent Care

Dalriada Urgent Care is available if you require urgent medical care when your GP surgery is closed. Dalriada Urgent Care operates weekdays from 6.00pm to 8.00am.

Contact details
Telephone: 028 2566 3500

Remember to telephone the service first. The doctor or nurse will give you advice over the phone and decide if you need to be seen by a doctor or will refer you to another service if appropriate.

Please note: the Northern Trust does not manage the Dalriada Urgent Care service. This is provided by GPs who are managed by the regional Health and Social Care Board.

Emergency Department

Northern Trust emergency departments operate at Antrim Area and Causeway Hospitals and provide the highest level of emergency care for life threatening emergencies such as stroke, heart attack and/or severe bleeding that can’t be stopped.

It is vitally important that Emergency Department resources are focused on the sickest and most critically ill patients.

The Trust has developed alternative pathways to the Emergency Department so that GPs can refer people to the most appropriate service.

Antrim Area Hospital has a Direct Assessment Unit providing GPs with direct access to senior medical advice and consultation for medical patients. The Direct Assessment Unit is for those with urgent and immediate medical problems and includes access to diagnostics and the ability to fast track patients into rapid access clinics, where appropriate.

ED waiting times

The increase in demand in the winter months places an added pressure on acute hospital beds and on all the supporting services within the hospital as well as on community, social and primary care services. The Trust is committed to doing all it can to ensure patients do not have long waits within the Department and can access treatment in the right place at the right time.

Anyone who does have to attend the Emergency Department will be assessed and prioritised according to clinical need. If appropriate, patients can be referred to alternative pathways within the hospital, such as the Direct Assessment Unit, Elderly Assessment Unit or RAID (specialist mental health) service.

Within the hospital, staff will be working to ensure that there is capacity for those patients attending the Emergency Department who require admission. The Trust has introduced a number of measures to assist in this, including seven day working, a discharge lounge and a hospital in-reach team, who work to quickly put in place any support that is required to settle patients back in to the community.

3rd January 2017

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