NHS First initiative all set for 1 December roll out to help keep urgent NHS services and patients safe

As a result of successful partnership working between our hospitals, local NHS 111 provider (HUC) and NHS England and NHS Improvement, Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System has been given the green light to start an appointment system for urgent and emergency care from 1 December.

This new approach to urgent and emergency care is being introduced across the country to keep urgent NHS services safe and to make sure they are available for everyone who needs them.

Unless residents are very seriously ill or injured and need 999 emergency services, they will be asked to go online to NHS 111 or ring for advice before leaving home. From December onwards, those arriving without a booked appointment at an emergency department, minor injury unit, urgent care or urgent treatment centre, will be assessed by a senior nurse before being asked to contact NHS 111 to be triaged.

NHS 111 can already make booked appointments with GP surgeries and pharmacies, or divert a call to the ambulance service if necessary. Callers can also get directly through to a specialist mental health team by selecting option 2. The addition is that from 1 December, NHS 111 will be able to make somebody a booked appointment at an A&E too.

Dr Vishen Ramkisson, the GP leading on the introduction of this new approach to urgent care for Hertfordshire and west Essex said: “It’s vitally important that everybody who needs urgent care is seen and treated safely in the right place, first time. Waiting for hours in an emergency department to be seen for a minor injury or illness is not in anyone’s interests. By picking up the phone or going online before people make the decision to travel, they can be assured that the right medical professional is expecting to see them.”

An appointment system will help to ensure everyone who needs urgent care help can be seen safely and comfortably. This new way of working will help our residents to get the help they need without spending time in a waiting room where the likelihood of contracting COVID-19, flu or other viruses is increased.

The advice remains that people should continue to ring 999 if they, or someone they are with, are very seriously ill or injured. No-one who needs emergency care will be turned away.

Please support this change by talking about it with your friends and family. Local and national publicity materials will be in circulation very soon.

Well done and thank you to everyone who has been working on this project to get it over the line and for those who will be helping to take it forward.

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