With calls normally answered within 42 seconds and online triage taking around two minutes, Doctors are encouraging the use of the NHS 111 service as the first point of call to receive fast support for all your urgent care needs this winter.
111 is the NHS 24/7 non-emergency helpline for when you urgently need medical help or advice and it's not a life-threatening situation.
The service has health advisors on hand to direct you to the most suitable service or offer reassurance through self-care advice. Based on your symptoms and needs, advisers can tell you how to get the medicine you need, connect you with a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP, arrange a face to face appointment if you need one, or find out which local service can help you.
Dr Martin Jones, Medical Director for NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:
“The message we’re giving to people is that contacting the right service can save you time and hassle and will help you get the most effective treatment first time. However we recognise that a lot of people aren’t sure where they should go if they need urgent care, that’s why we’re championing the use of the 111 service as the first point of call.
“By using 111, qualified professionals can understand your symptoms and offer self-care advice or quickly direct you to the most appropriate service.
“Although the 111 service can despatch an ambulance if you need one, we still recommend using 999 for life threatening emergencies.
“As we head into winter, which is always a busy and difficult time for health and care services, we want to ensure we’re helping people to use our services effectively to get the right care first time.”
You can access NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111.
111.nhs.uk is continuing to grow, with the percentage of people using the service through digital channels increasing from 3.4% in September 2018 to 12.3% in September 2019.
The 111 call service remains the main route for users. Between April and August this year, the 111 service across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire received around 22,000 calls each month.
On average over half of those callers - 11,461 people - were directed to services within their community, such as GPs, pharmacies and dentists. Just under 10 per cent of callers - 2125 people – were given self-care advice over the phone, helping to manage their concerns without visiting an NHS service.
All 111 calls are handled by health advisers who are supported by a range of clinical advisors including GPs, Nurses and Pharmacists.
In April this year the 111 service across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire was transformed into an Integrated Urgent Care (IUC) service, incorporating both the 111 and GP Out of Hours services into a rounded care approach. IUC is provided by SevernSide, a partnership between BrisDoc Healthcare Services, who provide the GP Out of Hours service, and Care UK, who provide the 111 service.