From October, a new system of urgent NHS care will be introduced in Worcestershire. As part of improvements to urgent and emergency care services, our County’s hospitals, including the A&E at the Alex, have been selected to be an early implementer of a national programme called NHS 111 First.

This new system is designed to:
• Reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission
• Protect Emergency Departments for those who need urgent care
• Signpost and support the public to receive care from the right place at the right time

What are the changes?
Use NHS 111

The public will be strongly encouraged to contact NHS 111 if they have an urgent – but not serious or life-threatening – medical need that they think might require treatment at an Emergency Department.

Booking for urgent care

NHS 111 is already able to refer and book people into a number of services, such as GP services. In the coming weeks, this will include Emergency Departments and Minor Injury Units. 

Waiting areas

Introducing booking slots will help to manage the volume of people in waiting areas and minimise Covid-19 infection risks.

Advice on getting the right treatment at the right place

In the future, people arriving at Emergency Departments without an allocated time slot may experience longer waits, unless they need immediate treatment. Care Navigators will be in Emergency Departments to help people use NHS 111 while they wait. As a
result, people may be directed elsewhere where they could be treated sooner.

Arrangements will not change for people with serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries.
People will be advised to continue to dial 999 as before.


What do these changes mean?

In the future the public will be asked to contact NHS 111 before attending an Emergency Department. 

By calling NHS 111 you will then be directed to the right service for you. This could be an appointment with your GP or dentist, or a timeslot at an Emergency Department. It’s hoped this will provide a better experience and help to keep you and NHS services safe.

Nobody that attends an Emergency Department without having contacted NHS 111 beforehand will be turned away.


How will these changes benefit patients?

Patients will get to speak with a senior clinician earlier; in some cases this can also be a video consultation so patients can see who is advising them on their care.

If a patient does need an urgent face-to-face appointment, this can be arranged there and then, without any further delay. They will know exactly where to go, and when. This will help reduce waiting times for all patients.

By advising people where and when to go, we can control crowding and significantly reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.