Silverbirch Medical Practice, Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland

Choose Well

When feeling unwell it is important that you choose the correct HSC service to meet your needs.  All services are under significant strain and we can all help by choosing well.

Can you treat yourself at home?

A well stocked medicine cabinet can treat many day to day illnesses. Small doses of paracetamol or ibuprofen for example can treat many common illnesses such as colds, sore throats and coughs. While rehydration mixtures can be used when suffering from vomiting or diarrhoea.

Many Winter Ailments can be treated at home.  See our Winter Ailments page.

You can find Fact Sheets for a range of common conditions on the Self Care Forum website.

Have you spoken with your pharmacist?

Pharmacists are qualified to dispense not only medicines, but also advice on a range of common complaints such as:

  • eye infections, stomach upsets, skin conditions, allergies, aches and pains.
  • common drugs, vitamins and minor first-aid.
  • healthy eating and living, including giving up smoking.
  • blood pressure and diabetes monitoring and needle exchange, truss fittings, stoma products and incontinence supplies.
  • women's health, including treatment for thrush, emergency contraception and pregnancy testing.
  • children's health, including nappy rash, teething, coughs and colds.
  • prescribed and over the counter medicines.

They can also answer questions on medications and help you with advice on issues such as healthy eating and quitting smoking. Your pharmacist will be well placed to advise if you need to see a GP with your complaint.

Minor Ailments Scheme
Most local pharmacies participate in the Minor Ailments Scheme.  You can find your nearest pharmacy using the HSC Service Finder
Pharmacists are trained to deal with Minor Ailments and can offer quick expert advice without the need to see your GP.  Treatments under the scheme are provided free of charge.  The following problems are covered:
  • Vaginal Thrush
  • Oral Thrush
  • Headlice
  • Cold Sores
  • Mouth Ulcers
  • Threadworm
  • Athlete's Foot
  • Groin Itch
  • Diarrhoea
  • Ear Wax

Eye or Vision Problems

If you have a new or sudden onset eye problem the Northern Ireland Primary Eyecare Assessment and Referral Service (NI PEARS) allows patients to make an appointment with an accredited optometrist of their choice for assessment of their sudden eye problem.

If you develop a sudden eye problem you can now contact an accredited optometry practice for advice and ask if you may be seen under the NI PEARS initiative.

If you are eligible an appointment will be offered within 48 hours by the optometrist to have the condition assessed, and where appropriate, treated, at no cost through Health and Social Care (HSC).

Alternatively, if you are making an appointment to see your GP or consulting your community pharmacist, about your eye problem, you may be advised to attend your optometrist instead for an NI PEARS assessment. The optometrist will assess your eye condition and will either provide advice and treatment in the practice or, if your condition is more serious and potentially sight threatening, will arrange a referral to the hospital eye service.

The NI PEARS service is aimed at patients with sudden onset eye conditions such as:

  • Red eye(s)
  • Significant pain and/or discomfort in the eyes, around the eye area
  • Sudden reduction in vision in one or both eyes
  • Recent onset or sudden increase of flashes and/or floaters in one or both eyes
  • Suspected minor foreign body in the eye.

You can find out more here:

A list of Optometry Practices accredited to provide this service is available here:

Mental health

If you're experiencing mental health difficulties, it is important to talk to your GP about your thoughts and feelings. Your GP will assess your needs. Together with your GP you will be able to determine the best course of action.

Mental health emergency

If your mental or emotional state quickly gets worse, this can be called a mental health emergency or mental health crisis. In this situation, it’s important to get help quickly. If you have been or are being treated for a mental illness, you should have a care plan. Your care plan has names and numbers to call in an emergency.  

If you don’t have a care plan, you should:

  • make an emergency appointment with your GP or your GP out-of-hours service.
  • if the emergency is at night, weekend or a public holiday go to the emergency department at a hospital.

What to do if you are caring for someone in a mental health emergency

If you're caring for someone and are concerned for their safety, you can consider the options above. If you can't get them to an emergency department and you can't keep them safe, you can call 999.

If you or someone you know needs help, and you would like to speak to someone by telephone, you can also call Lifeline free, in confidence, 24/7 on 0808 808 8000

For more information:

Do you need to visit your GP?

We provide all core primary medical service including medical advice, examinations, prescriptions and ongoing care for longstanding or chronic conditions.  See more information on the range of services we provide

Do you need to attend a minor injuries unit?

A Minor Injuries Unit can treat injuries that are not critical or life threatening, such as:

  • injuries to upper and lower limbs
  • broken bones, sprains, bruises and wounds
  • bites - human, animal and insect
  • burns and scalds
  • abscesses and wound infections
  • minor head injuries
  • nosebleeds
  • foreign bodies in the eyes and nose

For patients of our practice the local Minor Injuries Unit is at:

Bangor Community Hospital, Castle Street, Bangor, BT20 4TA. Phone: 028 9147 5120


Ards Community Hospital, Church Street, Newtownards, BT23 4AS. Phone: 028 9151 0110

Do you need to seek emergency hospital treatment?

In cases of sudden acute or severe illness or severe trauma where there is an immediate risk to life you should go to the nearest emergency department at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald or call 999 for an ambulance.
For example:

  • suspected heart attack
  • suspected stroke
  • serious head injury
  • serious accident

Staff will assess your medical condition when you arrive at the emergency department. Patients are seen according to clinical priority and not in order of attendance.

If you go to the emergency department you can check the average waiting time to see the nurse or doctor at participating hospitals across NI here

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