People who need urgent NHS care across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire are being asked to contact 111 before attending an Emergency Department.
Once a patients calls 111 or visits 111 online they will be navigated to the most appropriate service, first time by a trained operator. The operator will even be able to book appointments and timeslots at the most appropriate health service for their needs, which may include an Urgent Treatment Centre, GP practice, pharmacy or hospital.
By calling 111 in the first instance, it is hoped patients will receive the right care in the most appropriate setting first time, with the lowest level of risk of acquiring a hospital or health care related infection.
Dr James Hopkinson, joint clinical leader at NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG, said: “Our NHS is managing traditional winter pressures along with the additional demands of the coronavirus pandemic, so it is more important than ever before to ensure we deliver high quality care to patients without putting unnecessary pressure on our hospitals.
“Space in our hospitals has significantly reduced due to social distancing requirements and in many cases those who attend emergency departments could be treated safely in other places.
“By asking patients to contact NHS 111 first, they will be treated in the right place, right time, first time. If patients need hospital care then this system will help ensure that they are safely socially-distanced in our Emergency Departments.
“NHS 111 will help to reduce waiting times for patients, ease pressures on staff and have a positive impact on our local hospitals, thus enabling us to cope during the busy winter period. We are still here for emergency care, but if it is not life-threatening then please contact NHS 111 first.”
The NHS 111 service provides people with access to a trained professional and a clinician if needed.
Nationally, around 70 per cent of people attending Emergency Departments walk in, and the majority of those could have been seen quicker through other services such as an urgent treatment centre, GP practice or a pharmacy.
People who arrive at Emergency Departments without having first contacted NHS 111, will not be turned away, but may be asked to wait or be signposted to a more appropriate local healthcare service.
People with very serious or life-threatening health conditions, such as chest pain, severe bleeding or loss of consciousness, should still continue to phone 999 without delay.
The NHS 111 service is available by phone or online www.111.nhs.uk