People in Surrey who need urgent NHS care are being asked to call NHS 111 before they decide to walk into the local Emergency Department (ED), or as many people know it, A&E.
The new approach will ensure that patients can access the clinical service they need, first time. It will help to us to maintain social distancing, reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 and keep patients and staff as safe as possible.
To ensure social distancing in the emergency department waiting areas, people with urgent, but not life-threatening, health problems are being asked to contact NHS 111 before attending. NHS 111 will provide help straight away; if you need urgent care they will book you in so you can be seen quickly and safely. They may signpost you to an alternative service where you can access the right care in the right place.
Surrey Heartlands will go-live on 1 December as part of the national roll out.
Dr Tom Perry, an ED consultant at Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is about making it easier for our patients to access the right care quickly and, importantly, keeping them safe during the pandemic. This winter it is crucial that we carefully manage the numbers of people in our emergency department and calling NHS 111 first can help to prevent overcrowding.
“This is specifically for people who are not in serious danger but need urgent attention. The fastest way to get the right care is to contact NHS 111.
“They will be spoken to by a trained professional and a clinician if needed. If it is decided you need to go to the emergency department then you will be given a suitable time to attend and staff at the hospital will be expecting you. That means less waiting around and faster treatment.”
Nationally around 70 per cent of people attending emergency departments had just walked in and the majority of those could have been seen through other services such as the urgent treatment centres, GP or even pharmacy.
Anyone who attends the emergency department (A&E) without an appointment from NHS 111 will still be seen but could be directed to other services for treatment. Those with appointments from NHS 111 will also be given priority unless there is a medical need.
People with life threatening conditions that need emergency attention should still call 999. Likewise, if the condition is not serious, they should still seek advice from their pharmacy or make an appointment with their GP.