Caring for an unwell child – guidance on when, where and how to seek professional advice

Use the ‘red, amber, green traffic light tool’ below to help you decide how to care for your child age 0 – 5 years when concerned that they are unwell, but if you are worried about your child’s health, don’t hesitate to contact a professional for expert advice.

Traffic Light Tool – print this out and keep in a safe place.

Managing Fever:

For further advice on fever please visit high temperature (fever) in children on the NHS website:

You can often tell when a child has a fever, but, if possible, use a digital thermometer to check this.

To take your child’s temperature, please follow the below guidance:

  • Place the thermometer inside the top of the armpit.
  • Gently close the arm over the thermometer and keep it pressed to the side of the body.
  • Leave the thermometer in place for as long as it says in the instruction leaflet. Some digital thermometers beep when they’re ready.
  • Remove the thermometer. The display will show your child’s temperature.
  • If your child’s just had a bath or been wrapped in a blanket, their temperature may be higher for a short time. Wait a few minutes then try again.

If your child is over 3 months old and does seem distressed, consider giving them children’s paracetamol (Calpol) or ibuprofen (Nurofen). These can lower the body temperature as well as treat some pain such as earache or a sore throat. Paracetamol and ibuprofen should usually not be given together. Always check dosages and strength on the bottle or packet and follow the instructions carefully. Never exceed the recommended dose and never give aspirin to children under the age of 16.

Ibuprofen is not recommended by medical professionals for chickenpox management.

Please see below for information about available support to help keep your family well and where to get professional advice and assessment when unwell:


GP services

Make sure your child is registered with a general practice (GP) surgery. It’s free to register and this is where your child can get their baby-check, childhood immunisations and general medical advice and assessment when necessary. The usual opening hours are Monday – Friday 08:30hrs – 18:00hrs.

How to register with a GP surgery – NHS –

 NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 Call 111 if you need to speak to someone and do not need an ambulance.


Urgent treatment centres in Leeds

There are currently two urgent treatment centres in Leeds for anyone who needs to see a doctor or nurse urgently but is not in a life-threatening condition. You must call ahead or be booked in for an appointment at an urgent treatment centre by another service such as NHS 111, but these are usually open every day from 8am -11pm (including bank holidays) and are located at:

St George’s Urgent Treatment Centre, St George’s Centre, St George’s Road, Middleton, LS10 4UZ

Wharfedale Urgent Treatment Centre, Wharfedale Hospital, Newall Carr Road, Otley, LS21 2LY

To access the urgent treatment centres, please call NHS 111.


When to go to A&E:

An A&E department (also known as emergency department or casualty) should usually only be used for life-threatening emergencies

When to go to A&E – NHS

 When to call 999:

Only call 999 in a medical or mental health emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk

When to call 999 – NHS


West Yorkshire Healthier Together website offers clinically approved information and advice to help maintain and improve the health of babies, children, and young people in the area:


Healthy Start Scheme helping eligible parents to buy food, milk and to get free Healthy Start vitamins:


Pharmacy First:

Many pharmacies across Leeds are offering a service called Pharmacy First to patients who are registered with GP practices in Leeds. Some pharmacists can provide self-care advice and when needed if you are already entitled to free prescriptions, free treatment.


Leeds 0-19 Public Health Integrated Nursing Service (PHINS- previously called Health Visitors):

This includes health visitors, schools nurses and specialist family health workers who can offer guidance for families to help them stay as healthy as possible. The team also offers support with new parent mental health, breastfeeding, infant feeding, child health development, behavioural and emotional difficulties, oral health, toilet training and bed wetting.

Contact them directly for non-urgent advice Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm by calling 0113 843 5683

Leeds Community Health NHS Trust 0 – 19 Health and Wellbeing:


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