Corporate Information

Stay safe and avoid waiting in A&E: call NHS 111 first

People in West Cheshire who need urgent NHS care are being asked to call NHS 111 before they decide to walk into A&E.

To ensure social distancing in the A&E department waiting areas people who do not need an ambulance are being asked to contact NHS 111 for an appointment before attending. The service will then book them a time slot at the A&E department at the Countess of Chester Hospital or at the most appropriate health service for the patient.

The new approach will ensure that patients can access the clinical service they need, first time. Patients who need to be seen in A&E will be able to be seen and treated quicker.

NHS Trusts have been rolling out the new nation-wide system from late August. The Countess of Chester is introducing the new system today (Tuesday 24 November) with other NHS Trusts in the area launching at around the same time. NHS 111 First is being rolled out nationally by December.

Dr Darren Kilroy, Medical Director at the Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust said: “NHS 111 first is about improving our services by helping people to access the right service quickly. It’s also vitally important that we keep our patients and our staff safe in terms of COVID-19 so we need to carefully manage the number of people in our A&E.

“People who need emergency care should still call 999. Those people who are not in serious danger but need urgent attention should now contact NHS 111 either by telephone or online.

“They will be spoken to by a trained professional and a clinician if needed. If it is decided they should go to A&E then they will be given a suitable time to attend and staff at the hospital will be expecting them. The added bonus is that the staff in A&E won’t have to do any further triaging or initial assessments as that will already have been done by NHS 111. That means the patient will be seen and treated faster.”

Nationally around 70 per cent of people attending A&E departments have just walked in and the majority of those could have been seen through other services such as the urgent treatment centres, GPs or even pharmacies. At the Countess of Chester, around 75 per cent of A&E attendances are people walking in unannounced. For those living in rural areas the change to contacting NHS 111 first could prevent unnecessary trips to hospital as there may be cases where treatment can be offered nearer to home.

Anyone who attends 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