Londoners to get NHS urgent and emergency care with 111 First

The Royal London Hospital Accident and Emergency department (A&E) has been piloting an initiative which will change how people access parts of emergency care in London.

The initiative, ‘111 First’, helps patients access the right care, in the right place, more quickly. All Londoners are being asked to contact NHS 111 online or by phone first, before going to a hospital Accident and Emergency department (A&E) if they have an urgent, but not life-threatening, medical need. 

The Royal London Hospital A&E is one of the first hospitals in London where NHS111 is already able to book an A&E timeslot for a patient. NHS111 can also arrange for the patient to have a video consultation with a clinician.

From 1 December, NHS111 can arrange an urgent face-to-face A&E appointment during an allocated timeslot anywhere in London, if someone needs it - meaning shorter waiting times and fewer people in A&E. Arrangements are also in place to let A&Es know if shielding patients are coming so they can be kept safe.

As well as making sure patients get the right care, in the right place, more quickly, the new arrangements will also help control the risk of coronavirus while space in waiting rooms is reduced to allow social distancing.

Malik Ramadhan, Divisional Director for Emergency Care and Trauma at The Royal London Hospital, said:

“We are very pleased to be piloting new ways of providing emergency care and we’re already seeing the benefits for patients.

“It means patients don’t have to wait so long to be seen, and if it’s decided they do need to attend A&E we can get any tests and scans lined up before they arrive.”

Dr Vin Diwakar, Medical Director for the NHS in London said:

“The NHS has put in place extra measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and we want to reassure patients that it is safe to come in for treatment when they need it.  However, the risk of catching Covid-19 is still here and it’s vital that we take additional steps to keep our patients and staff safe. 

“111 First will help reduce the waiting time to be seen in A&E; instead Londoners will get the treatment they need faster and in the right place.

“General Practice is open to deal with patients with normal primary care needs, but it is essential that anyone who requires urgent, although not life-threatening treatment, contacts NHS 111 first to get the right care.”

Arrangements will not change for people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries who should continue to dial 999 and anyone who arrives at A&E without calling NHS 111 will still receive medical care, with those needing emergency treatment prioritised.

GP practices are open as usual and should be contacted first if you need an appointment with them.

As well as at The Royal London Hospital, bookable slots are already available at North Middlesex University Hospital, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwich, Croydon University Hospital and Barnet Hospital.