Your Health

If you feel unwell or are not sure where to get help, follow the step below:

Health help Now App 

The ‘Health help Now app’, provides access to health advice and signposts relevant local health and care services. Residents in Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford can visit the website or download Health Help Now from the App Store or Google Play. 

NHS 111

There are a range of systems in place to ensure that you have access to support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This includes calling the NHS 111 non-emergency service, which provides access to trained advisors, supported by healthcare professionals. When calling 111 you will be offered medical advice and directed to appropriate healthcare pathways.


If you are feeling unwell and need to relieve your symptoms, your local pharmacist is on hand to help. They can offer support throughout the winter period. Many over-the-counter medicines are available to help with common ailments such as colds, sore throats, coughs, sinusitis or earache. Your pharmacist will be able to recommend the best treatments that are available without needing a prescription. 

GP Surgery

For those who do need to see a doctor, but cannot do so during normal opening hours, additional pre-booked appointments are available as part of the west Essex Evening and Weekend GP service. This operates at six different locations and can be booked by staff in your own GP practice. An appointment will then be scheduled at a local hub and you will be given a suitable date, time and location for your out-of-hours appointment. 

For more information and advice visit the NHS website

Tips for staying well this winter include: 

  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it is just a cough or cold, don’t wait until it gets more serious, get help from your pharmacist. The sooner you get advice the better – pharmacists are here to help you stay well this winter.
  • If you do need help when your GP surgery or pharmacy is closed, call NHS 111 or visit the NHS Choices website who can direct you to a local service that is open.
  • It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors as it can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes pneumonia and depression. Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), if you can, you might prefer your living room to be slightly warmer.
  • Don’t put off getting the flu vaccination. For those who are eligible, the vaccination is available free of charge.

Your local A&E departments: 

Princess Alexandra Hospital

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust serves a population of 258,000 & provides healthcare services to the communities of Harlow and the surrounding areas. It runs Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex, England.

Address: Hamstel Rd, Harlow CM20 1QX

Phone: 01279 444455 

Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown Copyright and database rights 2018

What is urgent and emergency care?

Urgent and emergency care covers the service you need when you are ill and need to be seen by a doctor or nurse straight away. 

Urgent care relates to less serious health problems, like a cut or sprain that can be treated by services such as an Urgent Care Centre.

Emergency care is when you have a life threatening accident or illness and you have to be treated in a major hospital.

For more information or to find a service local to you go to the Southwark CCG website

When to go to A&E 

West Essex residents are being encouraged to seek alternatives to A&E where possible, ensuring that they choose the most appropriate services when experiencing illness during the winter period. 

Pressures have been building on A&E departments for several years and can increase significantly over winter because of a rise in the number of people admitted to hospital. 

In 2017, over 21% of patients from west Essex were streamed away from Princess Alexandra Hospital to a more appropriate service.

Everyone can help reduce the pressure on the NHS this winter by looking after themselves, keeping a well-stocked medicine kit at home, using local pharmacists for expert advice and treatment for common illness and ailments or by calling NHS 111 for urgent advice and before attending hospital. It is of utmost importance to utilise the alternative health services available to patients prior to attending A&E unless a serious illness or injury occurs.

Rob Gerlis at West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“It is essential that patients are able to find the most appropriate NHS service for them during this winter period. Fortunately there are now a range of options available in west Essex to ensure that the correct healthcare support can be accessed as quickly as possible by those who need it”. 

Some of the alternative health services to utilise are outlined below.