Phone First scheme celebrates anniversary and extends its hours

To mark its first birthday – the Southern Trust’s ‘Phone First’ service has extended its hours to 9pm, Monday to Friday.

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 10:55 am

The ‘Phone First’ approach aims to help those patients with urgent but not life threatening symptoms to get the most appropriate care as quickly as possible and avoid busy waiting rooms.

Before attending the Emergency Department or Minor Injuries service you should phone 0300 123 3 111 between the hours of 9am – 9pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Since starting last year, the team has taken 36,698 calls for help, less than a quarter of these patients actually needed to attend the ED and just under half of all callers were given a scheduled appointment for their local minor injuries service.

When you ring the number, a call handler takes your details. A Senior Nurse, Physiotherapist or GP will call you back and advise on the most suitable care.

For some patients, they will advise how to self-manage symptoms or direct them to the community pharmacist. Those who need urgent assessment or treatment may receive an appointment with a physiotherapist, an urgent care GP or local minor injuries service. Anyone who does need to attend the Emergency Department will be given a referral code.

Congratulating the team on its first year, Southern Trust Chief Executive, Shane Devlin said: “With unprecedented challenges right across health and social care since the start of the pandemic, we have been working closely with GPs and other colleagues to find new ways of working to improve unscheduled care services.

“The Phone First service has been a major change in the way we offer services. It has been hugely beneficial in helping to manage footfall in our busy waiting areas where there is limited space to follow social distancing measures needed to prevent and control the spread of infection.

“With sustained demand right across health and social care services expected throughout the winter, we need to do everything we can to try to reduce pressure on our hospitals.

“By extending our Phone First operating hours, the team will be able to help more people who need urgent care to get the most suitable service, while freeing up space and staff time in our Emergency Departments for those who really need it most.

“We greatly appreciate the support of the public in embracing this new approach to urgent care and wish the team continued success in delivering this vital service to local people.”

Phone First for Urgent Care

From Monday to Friday between 9am and 9pm - patients with urgent but not life threatening symptoms should phone 0300 123 3 111 before attending the Emergency Departments or Minor Injuries Services at Daisy Hill, Craigavon Area or South Tyrone hospitals.

If you think the symptoms are potentially critical, like a heart attack, stroke, or major trauma, do not delay in phoning an ambulance or getting the patient to the Emergency Department if you can.

Text relay number is: 18001 0300 123 3 111 or you can use the ‘Interpreter Now’ app

For other conditions, please speak to your GP or Community Pharmacist first.

Urgent Care GP Out of Hours

The Urgent Care GP Out of Hours Service is available for those patients who cannot wait until their GP surgery reopens.

It operates on week days from 6pm to 8am, weekends and bank holidays through the phone line 028 3839 9201.

As a telephone-based service, patients should always call first to access the team of GPs, Pharmacists and Nurses. The majority of patients will receive telephone advice, some will be given a face to face base appointment and a smaller number will require a home visit.

-

-

-

Editor’s message:

Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.