North London Partners in health and care

Urgent and Emergency Care - NHS 111 First

Several changes to urgent care are being introduced in London to make it easier and safer for patients to get the right treatment at the right time, while preventing overcrowding in emergency departments (EDs). This is especially important in light of Covid-19 and the ongoing risk of infection to patients and hospital staff.  

Booking appointments in emergency departments 

NHS 111 can already make direct appointments at most GP surgeries, GP hubs and urgent treatment centres (UTC) and refer to over 1,600 London pharmacies for urgent and repeat medication advice.  

NHS111 can now also book timeslots in emergency departments at North Middlesex Hospital and Barnet Hospital, two of several London hospitals trialling the system before it is rolled out across the capital by 1 December.  

A London-wide campaign launched on 26 October, asking those who think they need to go to A&E to contact NHS 111 to get help quickly and safely. NHS 111 First will bring several improvements for Londoners:  

  • Patients will get to speak with a clinician earlier and get the right treatment first time. 
  • If someone contacting NHS 111 needs urgent face-to-face assessment or treatment, an appointment can be arranged there and then. 
  • By advising people where and when to go, queues, crowding and waiting times in ED/A&E waiting rooms can be controlled, reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission. 
  • People will be more likely to get appropriate care closer to home. 

If patients do make their own way to EDs/A&Es and UTCs, they will continue to be treated. However, those whose conditions are less urgent may need to wait elsewhere or be asked to return for a later appointment. Using 111 first will ensure that patients get quicker, safer care in the right environment and will help to minimise the risk of the coronavirus spreading.   

Arrangements will not change for people with serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries, who should continue to dial 999 as before.  

Increased capacity 

To support these initiatives and winter pressures, in north central London we have increased capacity from our NHS 111 provider LCW by around 20%. This means that more healthcare professionals and trained health advisors than ever before will be available to respond to Londoners’ health needs. More than two in three people who call 111 speak to a clinician. 

Developing our approach 

London’s approach has been developed by hospital consultants, GPs, nurses, paramedics pharmacists, social workers, mental health specialists, NHS 111 teams in the capital, using local knowledge and expertise.  

NHS 111 will also be able to schedule patients into Same Day Emergency Care services later this year, bypassing the need for patients to attend an emergency department altogether.  

Other areas across England are developing similar responses to the pandemic for their urgent and emergency care services.