Patients in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are being encouraged to contact NHS 111 for urgent medical care needs.
The call from the local NHS aims to help patients get the care and treatment they need at the right place based on their clinical needs. It will also help manage the flow of patients to protect their safety and the safety of NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic and winter.
Patients contacting NHS 111 will be clinically assessed so that they can be referred to ED, an NHS Urgent Treatment Centre, a Minor Injuries Unit, pharmacy, GP or advised to self-care where appropriate. They will also be advised of the time that they should attend.
If people attend the emergency department at Leicester Royal Infirmary with a non-emergency condition and have not already contacted NHS 111, they could be asked to contact NHS 111 whilst on-site and be referred to another service.
The new move will prevent overcrowding and enable social distancing in waiting areas at the emergency department (ED) of the Leicester Royal Infirmary and other urgent care settings.
Professor Fahad Rizvi, GP and clinical lead for NHS 111 first explains: “Emergency departments are specialised to treat time-sensitive emergency needs and minor accidents can be taken care of at a variety of locations, often closer to home. When people access the right location for their needs, the emergency services can focus on the people who need them most. For this reason, we have always encouraged the use of NHS 111 for non-emergencies.
“This winter, the message is even more important because receiving a booked estimated time slot through NHS 111 will allow us to manage social distancing across NHS sites. If people ‘walk-in’ our ability to control crowding is reduced and this presents risks for both patients and staff.”
Debra Mitchell, acting chief operating officer at Leicester’s Hospitals emphasised that whilst people should use services wisely, the emergency department is still there for the people who need it most: “Like all health care settings we have to ensure we have appropriate infection prevention and control measures in place to protect patients and staff from the risks of COVID-19.
“Crowds in our ED do increase the risk of spreading COVID-19 in our hospitals and creating additional pressures. So by calling NHS 111 for non-emergency needs, you will help protect our most vulnerable patients and ensure our staff can care for people this winter.
“If you do have a genuine emergency, we’re still here for you when you need us. heart attack, strokes and major trauma are all reasons to call 999 and see us without delay.”
Stephen Bateman, Chief Executive of DHU Health Care added: "DHU have recruited extra staff to cope with the expected increase in calls to NHS 111. We are confident that this initiative will ensure that when patients contact NHS 111 they will get booked into the correct service for their health needs, taking unnecessary pressure off emergency departments."
To access NHS 111 by telephone dial: 111 or go online at: https://111.nhs.uk/
For more information please contact:
Prag Baddhan, LLR CCGs Communications team
Phone: 0116 2956943