This briefing is to update you about the NHS 111 First programme, which is being launched in Cheshire in November 2020 as part of a wider national roll out.
NHS 111 First is a national programme aimed at improving the way people access urgent care services by ensuring they receive the right care in the most appropriate setting first time.
In the North West approximately 60% of emergency department (A&E) attendances are currently unannounced, "walk-in" patients – the majority during the day and early evening, which can make managing social distancing in waiting rooms challenging.
To improve patient experience, people will be asked to contact NHS 111 first if they have an urgent, but not serious or life-threatening, medical need.
Where appropriate, the service will book a time slot for attendance at an emergency department or – if appropriate – may book or direct people to an alternative local service such as an urgent treatment centre, GP practice or pharmacy.
This will help to prevent crowding in emergency departments while, at the same time, ensuring people get the right treatment in the right place, first time – and as close to home as possible.
People will still be able to walk into any A&E department.
This will not change and nobody who attends an emergency department unannounced needing urgent treatment will be turned away.
They will be assessed on arrival and, if immediate treatment is required, this will continue in the same way as now.
However, by contacting NHS 111 first, people will be able to get a timed appointment in an emergency department when they need one, reducing the time they spend in the waiting room and helping to minimise the risk of spreading Coronavirus (Covid-19).
Arrangements for people with serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries will not change.
They should continue to dial 999 as before and everyone who needs an emergency "blue light" response will continue to receive one.
In Cheshire, NHS 111 First is due to launch in November 2020, in line with a planned nationwide roll out by December 2020.
Initially supported by a soft launch, high-profile national communications and engagement campaigns will follow to encourage people to use NHS 111 first.
NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is working closely with the NHS England / Improvement regional programme team and NHS 111 provider North West Ambulance Service to help co-ordinate the local roll out.
The CCG is also working with Healthwatch Cheshire and project teams at Cheshire's three hospital trusts – Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, East Cheshire NHS Trust and Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
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