seriously ill or poorly SHORTCUT Seriously ill or poorly Other pages: Get help | Cancer | Poorly

Seriously ill or poorly

This is one of three support pages helping you to get the right help at the right time. Use the navigation below to switch between each page or check the current page contents.


This is the print version of the page at and is therefore limited in functionality. We encourage you to try and access this page online or ask a relative or friend to access the page on your behalf.


Have you got a life-threatening or medical emergency?

These are emergency conditions - do not book a GP appointment - do not delay
999 page Ring 999 A&E page

Ring 999 for any of the following

Go to A&E for any of the following

Anaphylactic shock (severe allergy) Abdominal pain, severe, sudden
Bleeding from any sources, heavy or prolonged Blindness, sudden, one or both eyes
Breathlessness, severe, or stopped breathing or colour change Breathlessness, moderate to severe
Burns or scalds, severe Broken bones (for minor fractures attend an urgent treatment centre)
Chest pain, suspected heart attack Floppy (unresponsive), feverish baby
Choking Head injury, with any symptoms (e.g., loss of consciousness, vomiting, drowsiness)
Drowning Lethargic (drowsy), feverish child
Fits, seizure or uncontrollable shaking Nose bleed, not stopping after 30 minutes
Hypothermia (drop in body temperature) Overdose of medication, poisoning, accidental or intentional
Lacerations (knife wounds, cuts), deep Swallowed sharp or long object or button battery
Low blood sugar (hypo/hypoglycaemia) not responding to sugar  
Meningitis, suspected  
Paralysis (inability to move)  
Self-harm or suicide, imminent risk  
Stroke, suspected(sudden weakness of arms, legs or inability to speak properly)  
Unconscious, or fluctuating levels of consciousness  


Have you got symptoms of serious ill-health?

Please review this table. If you have mostly symptoms indicating you might be seriously ill, please contact us.

This page cannot list all possible symptoms that might indicate serious illness. If you are unsure or concerned that you might be or are becoming seriously ill, please contact us.

Less likely to be seriously ill

More likely to be seriously ill

Carrying out all or most normal activities, e.g., home life, work, going to school, sporting activity Stopped doing most things, e.g., chores, getting out of bed, going out
Responsive to talking / commands / gestures, playful, interested Unresponsive, uninterested, uncommunicative
Easily roused, awake, mobilising Difficult to rouse, drowsy, lethargic, floppy
Orientated (knows where one is), alert Disorientated, confused
Condition largely unchanged from normal General condition rapidly worsening
Had condition a long time (months/years) without change, stable Condition suddenly come on (hours / days / weeks), active worsening of existing long-term condition
Normal temperature, or mild temperature High temperature, or not coming down with paracetamol / ibuprofen
No chills, shakes, shivers Continual chills, shakes and shivers affecting entire body
No vomiting or sporadic vomiting Persistent vomiting
Drinking and peeing as normal Not drinking much and/or peeing much less than usual, or more than 6 hours since last pee
Eating as normal or slightly less than usual Not eating anything at all, even junk food
Breathing normally, or slightly faster than usual Rapid breathing, gasping or struggling for air, hunching shoulders to breathe, or sucking in skin under / between ribs or in notch in neck
No pain or pain levels up to 4 or 5 out of 10, can still sleep with pain and do most things Severe pain (7+ out of 10), pain scores approaching 9 or 10, pain stopping sleep
NB: 9/10 = excrutiatingly unbearable, can't speak, moaning, delirium
10/10 = unconscious, bedridden, passed out
  On the palliative care or end of life register


Is my child poorly?

These might be helpful in determining if your child is poorly

If you are worried about your child, please contact us. Our poorly child leaflet might be helpful if you are unsure.

If you have no internet access, please ask for a copy of our 'How can I tell if my child is poorly?' leaflet from our reception desk.

Is your baby or toddler seriously ill? Fever in children Looking after a sick child How can I tell if my child is poorly? leaflet When should I worry? leaflet HANDi App poster HANDi App (Apple) HANDi App (Android) What to do when your child is unwell poster  

Do you need to see us sooner rather than later?

If you have any of these symptoms, you are advised to contact us earlier

Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily indicate the need for same day assessment; if we are full for the day, the doctor on duty will assess your call and act accordingly.

If you are worried about cancer, please check our cancer red flags page.

Symptoms indicating a sooner appointment with us

Bleeding from any orifice, including coughing up or vomiting blood, especially if recurrent or persistent - please note, for ongoing bleeding from any orifice that is not stopping, please ring 999 or attend A&E
Change in bowel habit, persistent, especially if looser stools
Cough, persistent, longer than 3-4 weeks
Deafness, one-sided, sudden onset
Difficulty swallowing
Eye pain (with no foreign body) - if foreign body, please attend an urgent treatment centre
Hoarseness, persistent, longer than 3 weeks
Jaundice (yellow skin)
Lumps, new, where there shouldn't be, e.g., abdomen, armpit, breast, groin, limb, neck, testicle
Moles, changed appearance
Mouth ulcers, persistent, longer than 3 weeks
Night sweats (not related to the menopause)
Nipple discharge, changes, rashes
Pain at night, persistent, affecting sleep
Quinsy (pus on tonsil), suspected - if drooling, note able to swallow saliva, unable to open jaw at all and/or unwell, please attend A&E
Rashes, non-blanching - if worried about meningitis, please ring 999
Sunburn in a child
Tiredness, excessive, prolonged, disabling, with no obvious cause
Ulcer, in a diabetic - please ring for a nurse appointment
Unable to pass any urine at all
Urine infection in a male
Weight loss, unintentional


Not got anything too worrying?

If you haven't got cancer concerns, symptoms of serious illness or have anything that needs a sooner appointment with the GP then it is likely you can wait your turn

Please ring us for an appointment in due course. You have additional options if we are full for the day, or when we are closed.

if you're still not sure, please ring us or 111 for advice.

Ring 111 Appointments page If we are full When we are closed