From December 1 you will be able to book a slot at your local A&E by phoning NHS 111. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant crowded waiting rooms are putting patients and hospital staff at risk, so NHS 111 First is being introduced to help patients who have urgent, but not life threatening health problems.
The approach is being introduced nationwide to help keep urgent NHS services safe and to make sure that they are available for everyone who needs them. Remember that you should always call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured, or if their life is at risk.
How will the service work?
From 1 December 2020, the NHS is introducing a new system called NHS 111 First.
If you have an urgent, but not life-threatening health problem you can now contact NHS 111 First to find out if you need to go to A&E.
NHS 111 can book you an appointment at your local A&E or emergency department. This means you will have an allocated time to attend hospital and be treated, so you don’t have to wait a long time to be seen and can also help services avoid becoming overcrowded.
Your NHS 111 advisor or clinician could also make you a direct appointment with a GP, Pharmacist or Urgent Treatment Centre. They may also be able to give you the advice you need without using another service.
What will this mean for you?
If your condition is not life-threatening, NHS 111 may direct you to a more appropriate service or one that can see you sooner. You may also be asked to wait at home until the emergency department is ready to see you, avoiding a long wait in A&E for you and helping to prevent overcrowding. If you need an urgent face-to-face assessment or treatment, NHS 111 should be able to arrange this immediately for you.
How do you use NHS 111 First?
You can contact NHS 111 either online or by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is free to use, including from a mobile phone.
- Call 111
NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. Anyone going online to 111.nhs.uk or calling the free NHS 111 number will be given a thorough assessment and then helped to find the most appropriate treatment.
Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System has released this film to highlight the changes.