DR TIM DALTON, LOCAL GP AND CHAIR OF NHS WIGAN BOROUGH CCG
Today I am not talking about Coronavirus. I thought I would tell you that in case you only read COVID news right now. Instead, I would like to discuss an under-appreciated NHS service that might just be able to help you next time you think you have an urgent medical problem and you don’t know what to do…
I want to talk about NHS 111 – one of the really unsung heroes of these challenging times in NHS terms.
The more I think about it, the more I wonder if people really understand all 111 can do for them and just how helpful it can be.
We all know what GP practices and pharmacies are for. We all know to go to A&E if we are having a heart attack, a stroke or maybe have a leg pointing in the wrong direction. But how many of us know when 111 is our best point of call?
Do you need a GP overnight? 111 can book you an appointment with the out of hours GP.
Need an emergency dentist? They can sort that too.
111 is even there for all those times you aren’t sure. They can give you advice online or over the phone about a range of medical issues or point you in the direction of who can help most.
And now, unless you are calling 999 for a real medical emergency, you should ring 111 before you go to A&E. Why? Because 111 can tell you if that’s the right place for you, if there is somewhere you will get the help you need more quickly, and if you do need A&E they can give you a timeslot. This means that you aren’t waiting around for too long with lots of people. That helps you stay safe and it helps A&E run smoothly.
In times like these, this is an enormous help. Thinking 111 first when you need medical help quickly, can really help your local hospital and health services.
What I am saying is that 111 should be your new health-related best friend.
You can get in touch with 111 either online – 111.nhs.uk – or ring 111. If you go online and they need to speak to you, they will give you a call back – the end of the days of being on hold!
They have translators, including British Sign Language, and textphones (18001 111), so anyone can ring or go online and get help, whatever your language, whatever your need.
They are open 24/7 and they can get you medical help, any time of the day.
Basically, what I am saying is that they are there for you, anytime, whoever you are.
So please, if you need urgent medical help, or you’re not sure if you do, and it isn’t a medical emergency, please think 111 First before heading to A&E.
And in the meantime, stay safe, stay well and contact your GP practice if you have any lumps, bumps or changes in your body that you should get checked out.