August Festival healthcare advice

Are you visiting Edinburgh for any of the 12 summer festivals, including the Fringe and the International Book Festival?

The festivals in August are a huge part of Edinburgh’s modern culture and history. Established in 1947, the International Festival has grown significantly year by year, making it one of the most popular events in the world.

Last year, 31,545 people participated in shows on the Fringe Festival, and 2,475,143 show tickets were purchased. The average audience for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo each year is 220,000. For the Festival finale on 28 August, an estimated 250,000 spectators will see around 400,000 fireworks burst into the sky above Edinburgh Castle.

Given the numbers attending, it’s no surprise that some fall ill and we need to treat them. If you are one of these visitors or performers and you become unwell, it’s important for you to know who to turn to for medical advice or attention when you’re away from home.

Emergency care is always free at the point of use. For temporary residents from around the world, if you access any of our services we will treat you first and then sort things out later – you won’t be denied urgent care.

Here we summarise the most popular services you might need to access. For more details see our Festival Health website pages.

Common questions or minor ailments
Your local pharmacy will provide you with help and advice on common health problems, minor ailments and questions about medicines.

If you are from the UK and run out of repeat medication, a pharmacy may be able to help you get a prescription from your own GP practice, or an emergency supply.

Less serious injuries
For minor injuries (minor cuts/burns, wound infections, sprains and small bone breaks), go to the Minor Injuries Clinic at the Western General Hospital. If you want to check if your injury is suitable for treatment here, phone ahead on 0131 537 3481.

The clinic treats adults and children over one year old and is staffed by specialist nurse, paramedic and physiotherapy practitioners. It’s open every day from 8am - 9pm. The last patient book-in is at 8.30pm, but no appointment is necessary.

Sexual health problems
The Chalmers Centre provides care and advice on sexual health issues, including emergency contraception. For appointments and advice, call 0131 536 1070. For walk-ins, you can attend the Centre between 8:30am and 10am.

GP services
If you are acutely ill and need contact with a General Practitioner (GP/family doctor) that day, you should first phone a local GP practice.

Alternatively, phone 0131 667 3925, where there are a number of additional appointments available during the festivals, between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, from 4 August to 28 August.

Urgent mental health support
The following are some useful phone numbers to keep a note of if you need support with your mental health:
Mental Health Assessment Service (MHAS) on 0131 537 6000
Breathing Space helpline – 0800 838 587
The Samaritans helpline – 08457 909 090
Edinburgh Crisis Centre – 0808 801 0414

Out of hours
Need urgent medical advice out of hours, and not sure what to do? Call NHS 24 on 111.

Dental health
For information on emergency dental care, see NHS 24’s website

NHS Lothian has hospital Emergency Departments at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, St John’s Hospital, Livingston and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children. These services are for urgent and emergency situations only.

If at any time you think you need an emergency ambulance for a life-threatening condition, call 999.

A big welcome to Lothian’s temporary residents – we hope you all enjoy the summer festivals!