A Nottinghamshire GP is urging the public to think twice before going to A&E to ease pressures on hospitals as Covid-19 restrictions are set to ease further.
Admissions to emergency departments in the county have started to increase in recent weeks and in some cases the public could be seen at more appropriate settings.
The message comes as restrictions ease further on Monday, 17 May, with up to 30 being able to meet outdoors and indoor dining resuming.
Thilan Bartholomeuz, GP at the Blidworth Surgery near Mansfield, said: “We are seeing a high volume of people attending our emergency departments and sometimes this isn’t the right place to be seen. To make sure you get the help you need, in the right place and at the right time, I would urge the public to call 111 first to ensure they are then sign posted to the correct place.
“This will help our hospitals treat people most in need and it will also help the public be seen quickly and at the most appropriate place, whether that is at their GP, an urgent treatment centre or a local pharmacy.”
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.
Since the launch of the 111 First programme in Nottinghamshire, thousands of people have been directed to more appropriate services and latest figures show Nottinghamshire has the lowest number of referrals from 111 to A&Es in the Midlands. This means patients who call 111 are being directed to the most suitable service for their need successfully.
Dr Bartholomeuz added: “It is fantastic news that the 111 First programme is working in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. The fact people are being directed to the most appropriate service is a great help to our health system and will also help to reduce waiting times.
“Remember, the NHS is still here for you, your GP practices are open and have been throughout the pandemic. If you need emergency advice and are not sure where to go always contact 111 to find out where you should be seen and remember to stay safe as restrictions continue to ease.”
People who arrive at A&E 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