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Do you need urgent NHS care in Suffolk and north east Essex? Then contact NHS 111

A new system is being introduced for people in Suffolk and north east Essex who need urgent – but not emergency – NHS care

Patients are being told to ‘Think 111 First’ and contact NHS 111 by phone or online at 111.nhs.uk to find out where they should go for treatment and when. These services are staffed 24 hours a day, every day.

Those individuals with very serious or life-threatening health conditions, such as chest pain, severe bleeding or loss of consciousness, should still continue to phone 999 without delay.
People who arrive at an Emergency Department (ED) without a referral from NHS 111 may be directed elsewhere or have to wait until referred patients have been seen, unless they need immediate treatment.
This is a new way of accessing urgent care across Suffolk and north east Essex and will help the NHS manage the flow of patients, maintain social distancing and reduce the risk of infection.
Belinda White, Regional Manager at Practice Plus Group who provide the 111 service, explained: “Contacting 111 first means everyone will get the right treatment more quickly and probably closer to home as well.
“It also means that visitors to the area don’t need to look up details of NHS services if they need urgent treatment. The 111 team will do all that and book them in where they can receive the most appropriate care for their needs.”
Arrangements have not changed for people with serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Please continue to dial 999, as before.
The scheme in Suffolk and north east Essex is part of a national initiative to encourage people to call NHS 111 before thinking of going to ED, as part of the NHS’s response to the pandemic and the ongoing need to protect people from infection.
Other parts of the NHS are likely to follow suit over coming weeks and months. In order to make this change happen, the system has taken a number of measures which include:
  • increasing NHS 111 capacity
  • ensuring the technology will allow the NHS 111 team to book an arrival time slot in the relevant emergency department, and
  • increasing the availability of alternatives to a visit the emergency department, including same-day emergency care

Dr Mark Shenton, a GP with Suffolk Primary Care, said: “With the traditional winter pressures and additional demands as a result of COVID-19 placed on our local NHS services, never before has it been so important to direct patients to the most appropriate services for their needs. 
“Think 111 First has already been successfully trialled in other parts of the country. In these areas, there has been a drop in the number of people going to emergency departments freeing up capacity for those people who really do need these services. 

 We are confident that Suffolk and north east Essex will experience similar success."

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