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NHS urgent and emergency care in the right place, at the right time with 111 First

30 October 2020

People who need urgent, but not life-threatening, care are being asked to contact NHS 111 before going to A&E. This will reduce waiting times and support social distancing in waiting rooms

NHS urgent and emergency care in the right place, at the right time with 111 First.

  • How people access parts of emergency care in London is changing
  • People who need urgent, but not life-threatening, care are being asked to contact NHS 111 before going to A&E—this will reduce waiting times and support social distancing in waiting rooms
  • 111 First will mean from 1 December all Londoners can have an appointment booked for them at a nearby A&E if it’s needed
  • General Practice is open as usual for telephone, online, video and face-to-face appointments

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is a pilot for the new 111 First system.

Dr Gary Davies, Hospital Medical Director, said: “This initiative means that patients can be booked into and seen in the correct environment as quickly as possible. Whether that be in a community setting, with a general practitioner, Same Day Emergency Care, or Urgent Treatment Centre, this will reduce waiting times, decrease patients in waiting rooms and therefore allow safer social distancing. 111 First allows patients to book into the appropriate emergency care, improving patient experience and more efficient use of healthcare resources.”

All Londoners are being asked to contact NHS 111 online or by phone first, before going to a hospital Accident and Emergency department (A&E/ED) if they have an urgent, but not life-threatening, medical need. 

The new arrangements will also help the NHS to better control the risk of coronavirus while space in A&E waiting rooms is reduced to ensure social distancing.

From 1 December, 111 can arrange an urgent face-to-face A&E appointment during an allocated time slot anywhere in London, if someone needs it—meaning shorter waiting times and fewer people in A&E. Arrangements are also in place to let A&Es know if shielding patients are coming so they can be kept safe.

NHS111 can also make direct appointments online, by phone or face-to-face with a variety of health services, including Urgent Treatment Centres, a patient’s own GP, specialised mental health crisis services, dental services and pharmacists for urgent repeat prescriptions and advice. If needed, an ambulance can also be despatched.

NHS 111 online or by phone, which is being significantly expanded in the capital, is already available at any time of day or night with trained health advisers, doctors, nurses, paramedics or pharmacists able to get people the right NHS care quickly and in the right place.

Arrangements will not change for people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries who should continue to dial 999 and anyone who arrives at A&E without calling NHS 111 will still receive medical care, with those needing emergency treatment prioritised.

GP practices are open as usual. Contact them first, as you normally would, if you need an appointment with your GP. 

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