Need urgent medical care? Somerset doctors ask people to contact 111 first, before visiting A&E
On 1 December, a new system is being introduced for people in Somerset who need urgent, but not emergency care. People will be urged to contact NHS 111 by phone or online, at any time of day or night, to get medical advice and care.
If needed, experienced clinicians will make a referral directly to GP surgeries, Emergency Departments (A&E) Minor Injury Units and other urgent care services.
In line with the Think 111 First national campaign, the new system in Somerset aims to encourage people to contact 111, before attending A&E. This will help to ensure that people can safely receive the right care, in the most appropriate setting, whilst relieving pressure on hospital emergency departments.
Dr Helen Thomas, Clinical lead for Urgent and Emergency care at Somerset CCG explained: “We want to ensure that people can access the right care, in the right place and at the right time. If people have an urgent, but non-life threatening medical need – by contacting 111 first, we can provide medical advice and assessment quickly.
“Trained medical professionals will advise people on the most appropriate healthcare service for their medical needs. This could include medical advice over the phone, through a minor injury unit, local pharmacy, or contacting their GP Surgery. If you need urgent care and an Emergency Department or a minor injury unit is the right place for you, we will book you in to be seen quickly and safely with a time slot.
“The new system will help more people to benefit from early clinical assessment over the phone, or online and will support the NHS to manage the flow of patients when capacity in waiting rooms is much smaller than before, to maintain distancing and reduce the risk of infection.”
Dr Jon Tipping, Clinical Director and ED Consultant at Yeovil Hospital said: "Using NHS111 before visiting A&E, will help people to get advice quickly on the most appropriate care before leaving home. We know that a high proportion of people who walk in to an emergency department could be safely treated in an alternative healthcare setting.
“Contacting 111 first, means everyone will get the right treatment, more quickly - and probably closer to home as well and will help to ensure we can see people with the most urgent needs in a safe way, while protecting staff and patients.”
Dr James Gagg, ED Consultant and Clinical Director for Integrated & Urgent Care at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust added: “We know it can often be difficult to know where to go for urgent medical treatment or advice. When you think you need to go to the emergency department, we are asking people to stop and contact 111 first; clinicians will be will be able to advise you on where to go, or what to do next and to book a time to attend at that service if appropriate.
“We have put in place new and important measures to keep everyone as safe as possible when you access care and as a result of vital social distancing measures, we have less space available to us in hospital waiting rooms. Contacting 111 before visiting a hospital will also help us to keep everyone safe.”
Arrangements have not changed for people with serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Please continue to dial 999, as before.
To contact 111 – just call 111, or visit 111.nhs.uk.