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Keeping patients and NHS staff safe – just Think NHS 111 First

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The NHS has introduced a new system for people needing urgent medical care when it is not a “life or limb threatening” 999 emergency.

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If you have an urgent medical problem or you’re not sure what to do, just call NHS 111 first and they’ll make sure you get to the best place for you to be seen safely and quickly.

In mid and south Essex our NHS 111 team has access to clinical experts and if you need to visit the emergency department they will book you a time slot when you should attend.

They’ll also let the hospital know when you’re coming. This means you could avoid a lengthy wait in the waiting room and be seen more quickly.

Calling NHS 111 first could mean some people do not need to visit A&E at all.
Their needs could be met by visiting a pharmacy or arranging an appointment at their GP practice. The NHS 111 team will advise on the right thing to do.

And if you’ve arrived at the emergency department without contacting NHS 111 first, you will still be seen, but you may have to wait longer unless you need immediate treatment.

Donald McGeachy, Medical Director of the Mid and South Essex Acute Commissioning Team and a local GP commented:

“The winter months are one of the busiest times of the year for everyone working in the NHS. This year we also have the added pressure of COVID-19 and the challenges that brings.

“It’s really important that we help our residents receive the right care, in the right place as quickly as possible. If that means a visit to the emergency department, by calling NHS 111 first you’ll be helping to keep everyone safe.

“This is really important because hospitals have had to reduce the size of their waiting rooms due to COVID-19 and social distancing.

“If you arrive at the emergency department without contacting NHS 111 first, you will still be seen, but you may have to wait longer unless you need immediate treatment.”