From 8 September, local residents are being advised to call 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, NHS Runcorn Urgent Care Centre, NHS Widnes Urgent Care Centre and the emergency department at Warrington Hospital. In the coming months this enhancement to the NHS 111 service, which is a national project, will be extended to include the emergency department at Whiston Hospital and other local NHS services.
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 with a booked face-to-face time slot will benefit from reduced waiting times and NHS services can help maintain social distancing guidelines in waiting areas further reducing the risk of infection.
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.
Clinical Chief Officer of NHS Halton Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Andrew Davies said:
“We are pleased to announce that Warrington has been chosen alongside Blackpool as one of the first areas in the North West to introduce this new and convenient system with other areas across the country following later this year. It will see NHS 111 working closely with hospital departments, urgent care centres, GP practices and other NHS services to ensure that patients get the right care, in the right place at the right time.”
Chief Executive of Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals, Professor Simon Constable said:
“This new way of working will allow us to more effectively manage the flow of patients through our emergency department which will help 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.”