Powered by Babylon

Frequently asked questions

How does Ask A&E work?

You will be asked a series of questions via the Ask A&E symptom checker.

Based on the information you provide, you will be given information to help you decide what to do next. In certain situations, and based on the information provided, you may decide that your condition can be managed at home or with over-the-counter medication. In other circumstances, you may decide to book an appointment with your usual GP, or, if your symptoms are potentially more serious, you may decide to go to A&E. Please note that the final decision on how to treat yourself is always yours.

Why do I need to create an account?

Creating an account with Ask A&E makes the process of sharing information with UHB hospitals simpler, and means the staff seeing you in hospital can see what you have said previously. The basic information you provide at registration helps the symptom checker give a tailored outcome.

The person using the symptom checker must be the person who registers.

When shouldn't I use Ask A&E?

Ask A&E is not intended for use during pregnancy, or by those under the age of 16. There are some situations where immediate medical attention via A&E may be required. These include, but are not limited to:

  • chest pain
  • severe bleeding
  • severe difficulty in breathing (shortness of breath)
  • sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body
  • moderate to severe burns
  • convulsions or seizures
  • sudden change in mental status (such as unusual behaviour, confusion, difficulty waking from sleep)
  • head or spinal injuries
  • wound or injury caused by an object piercing the skin
  • serious limb impairment or broken bone
  • potential signs of severe allergy, such as lip or tongue swelling

In certain circumstances, we recommend that you always have an appointment with a doctor. These include, but are not limited to:

  • mental health concerns
  • pregnancy and post-natal concerns
  • recent surgery
  • if your immune system is significantly weak, e.g. due to taking specific medications or an underlying condition
  • known HIV or AIDS
  • active tuberculosis
  • fever after travel outside of Europe or North America
  • new or rapidly changing rashes
  • if you are considering harming yourself or taking your own life

Can I book an appointment with a GP, walk-in centre or A&E consultant?

No. However, based on the information you provide, you will be given information to help you decide what to do next. In certain situations, and based on the information provided, you may decide that your condition can be managed at home or with over-the-counter medication. In other circumstances, you may decide to book an appoint with your usual GP, or, if your symptoms are potentially more serious, you may decide to go to A&E. Please note that the final decision on how to treat yourself is always yours.

How long does the registration process usually take?

It’s easy to register for the service. It only takes a few minutes and you can do it online from wherever you are, without the need to travel.

Can I use Ask A&E for someone else?

Not currently. In the near future it should be possible to use Ask A&E for someone else, provided they are aged 16 or over.

Do you have to pay to use Ask A&E?

The service is free for NHS patients.

Can anyone register?

Anyone can register, but this service is intended for use by those located in the Birmingham and Solihull area.

What if I have technical issues when using Ask A&E?

Please contact Babylon's helpline on 0330 223 1008 or email support@babylonhealth.com.

Who owns the data you store about me?

You do. Not Ask A&E, not UHB, and not Babylon.

There are some things we need to do with your data to make sure the service we provide to you is both high quality and delivered in accordance with the law. A consultant subsequently having a consultation with you needs to be able to see your record, for example. We may also retain your data for medical regulatory purposes, as legally required.

The symptom checker is powered by Babylon and, accordingly, Babylon is the data controller of the symptom checker.

Where you have provided your explicit consent, Babylon will use your symptom checker information (always having removed personal identifiers, such as your name, address and contact details) to improve Babylon’s healthcare products and services, and Babylon’s artificial intelligence system so it can deliver better healthcare to you and other Babylon users.

Babylon and UHB are joint data controllers of the outcome/recommendation produced by the symptom checker. 

UHB will be data controller of your medical information if you seek medical advice and/or treatment at UHB.

On a fully anonymised basis, we may use the data for research purposes and to improve the services we deliver to all patients. For further details, please read our terms and conditions and privacy policy in full.

How is my identity protected?

Once entered into the system, all data is encrypted, as are the communications to/from the back-end systems, and access is only provided to the patient and the NHS staff engaged in the provision of the service.

The application on the website requires a password, that the user sets, to access the user's details and records. The back-end databases which store the data are located in secure data centres located in England.

How safe is the data that Ask A&E holds?

All medical records are centrally held and meet or exceed NHS standards. Babylon works to processes and procedures that meet ISO27001 standards and has been independently audited and confirmed by BSI. The system has also been independently security tested.

Will I ever be charged for accessing Ask A&E?

No, you will never be charged for accessing Ask A&E as long as you are entitled to NHS care. 

How does the partnership with Babylon work?

Babylon has been chosen by UHB to provide the digital technology and symptom checker that make the service we provide possible.

Who is liable if the Ask A&E symptom checker misses something?

The symptom checker will provide you with information on what to do next, but we cannot guarantee that information provided through the symptom checker will meet your health or medical requirements.

It is important to remember that the decision to go to hospital is yours alone, and not that of the symptom checker. For more details on liability, please see the Ask A&E terms and conditions.