Definition

Outside normal surgery hours you can still phone your GP surgery, but you will usually be directed to an out-of-hours service. The out-of-hours period is from 6.30pm to 8.00am on weekdays and all day at weekends and on bank holidays.

Alternatively, you can call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647 (24 hours a day, seven days a week) for medical advice. Telephone consultations and triage (an assessment of how urgent your medical problem is) are an important part of all out-of-hours care.  NHS Direct Wales is a phone service giving health information and nurse advice.

Since 2004, GPs have been able to choose whether to provide 24-hour care for their patients or to transfer responsibility for out-of-hours services to Health Boards.

Health Boards are responsible for providing a high quality service for the local population. Some Health Boards provide care themselves. Others provide care through external organisations. This may be for out-of-hours treatment, or when surgeries are closed for another reason.  This means different areas can have slightly different services. Search for your Health Board for more information on out-of-hours services care in your area. 

Types of out-of-hours care

Out-of-hours cover may include some or all of the services below:

  • GPs working in A&E departments, or minor injuries units (MIUs).
  • Teams of healthcare professionals working in primary care centres, A&E departments or MIUs.
  • Healthcare professionals (other than doctors) making home visits, following a detailed clinical assessment.
  • Ambulance services moving patients to places where they can be seen by a doctor or nurse, to reduce the need for home visits.

Choose well

If you become unwell or are injured make sure you choose the right NHS service to make sure you get the best treatment. It explains what each NHS service does, and when it should be used.

Choosing Well means that you and your family will get the best treatment. It also allows busy NHS services to help the people who need them most.

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Q&A

What do I do if I need to see a doctor outside of normal surgery hours?

All doctors have an emergency service. This service is only for urgent medical problems that cannot wait until the next day to be treated.

Most surgeries have an answering-machine message which will provide you with the telephone numbers for the out of hours service. Alternatively you could call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647 for advice.

What do I do if I am ill while I'm away from home?

If you fall ill while away from home or if you are not registered with a doctor but you need to see one, you can still contact your nearest surgery to ask for treatment.

You can receive emergency treatment for 14 days. After that you will have to register as a temporary or permanent patient.

Temporary registration allows you to be taken onto the doctor's list for a three-month period. If you have a doctor but are away from your home area, you can register temporarily with a doctor near where you are currently staying and still remain a patient of your permanent doctor.

Try to have the following information available when you see a doctor for the first time:

  • Details of your on-going medical problems.
  • Details of medical problems you have suffered in the past.
  • The name of any medicines that you are currently taking.
  • Details of anything you are allergic to. 
  • Contact details of your regular or previous doctor.
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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS Choices.
Last Updated: 01/03/2016 15:08:11