When Should You Call 999?

999 Call Takers in a Control room

Life-threatening emergencies 

You should call 999 in a medical emergency, when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.  These can include: 

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke 
  • An acute confused state 
  • Chest pains
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • Severe allergic reactions 
  • Severe burns or scalds 
  • Major trauma, such a s a road traffic accident or fall from a height 

Non-life threatening emergencies 

If it is not a life-threatening emergency, please consider other options before calling 999.  These include: 


  • Coughs and colds
  • Sore throat
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Aches and pains
  • Help if you run out of a repeat prescription 

NHS Inform  

NHS inform has self-help guides for a range of conditions 

Phone 111 

When your local GP and local pharmacy are closed, and you are too ill to wait

Mental well-being 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or need support, call 

NHS 24 on 111 

Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 (open Monday – Thursday 6pm – 2am; Friday 6pm – Monday 6am 

Samaritans on 116 123 (open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year) 

Minor Injury Unit 

Visit your local minor injuries unit for non-life threatening but painful injuries, including: 

  • Cuts and minor burns
  • Sprains and strains
  • Suspected broken bones and fractures

You can use Scotland's Service Directory to find a Minor Injuries Unit near you 

GP Surgery 

If you contact your GP practice, the service might be different to what you're used to as we work hard to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  

After phoning your GP practice, you might be offered a telephone or video appointment. If you're asked to go to your GP practice for an appointment, you might notice staff wearing personal protective equipment like face masks. You might also be asked to follow additional hygiene measures.