16 Nov 2020

From Tuesday 17th November, local residents are urged to contact NHS 111 first if they need urgent – but not emergency - NHS care

By contacting NHS 111 first, patients will be able to get expert advice from health advisors, nurses, paramedics, doctors and other medical specialists. Depending on the individual needs of patients, NHS 111 can book time slots for patients at GP surgeries, St Helens Urgent Treatment Centre and the Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) at Whiston Hospital.  

This new way of working will support patients to stay as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic by managing the number of patients attending services at any one time. It will also ensure patients get the right care, in the right place by signposting and, where possible, supporting patients to access the most appropriate local health service in each case.

Patients requiring services at their local GP practice should continue to contact their surgery online or via phone as usual and anyone with a life-threatening emergency should call 999 immediately.

Dr John Matthews, Clinical Director, Emergency Department at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said:  “We are hoping this new way of working will reduce waiting times for patients, ease pressures on staff and ensure we are fully prepared for the busy winter period. Social distancing guidelines also mean that we have reduced capacity in our waiting rooms so, by allocating patients a time slot, we can ensure that patients are able to social distance.”

 “We strongly encourage patients to contact NHS 111 first if they need urgent care.  However, it is really important to note that, even if they have not done so, we will always ensure patients receive appropriate care and treatment in the most appropriate setting.”

Professor Sarah O’Brien, Clinical Accountable Officer at NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “We are pleased that this new way of working now across the whole of Merseyside will see the NHS 111 service working more closely with hospital departments, the Urgent Care Centre, GP practices and other NHS services in the local area to ensure that our patients get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”