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NHS 111 Wales is local patients’ ‘first port of call’

Written by on 21st May 2021

Latest YouGov research (on behalf of the Welsh Government) shows that people across our Cwm Taf Morgannwg communities, which include Bridgend, Merthyr and Rhondda Cynon Taf, are getting used to turning to NHS 111 Wales online, or via the 111 phone line, as their first port of call when unwell.  This use of NHS 111 Wales is helping patients interact with the NHS services they need more quickly and easily.

NHS 111 Wales provides a more efficient way to access healthcare and advice for urgent but non-life-threatening conditions across the locality.

This service helps people check their symptoms through an online symptom checker, which directs them to the right help. The online symptom checker can signpost individuals to the right place depending on their health needs based on the information provided.  This could include a pharmacy, Minor Injuries Unit or an alternative service such as a visit to the GP.  Alternatively, patients can ring the free-to-use 111 number for similar advice over the phone, and where required, will be called back by a healthcare professional.

Key findings in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg communities:

  • Around 65% of those surveyed are confident accessing non-emergency NHS services online and on the phone first. However, they are often unaware that they could be assessed over the phone and treated more quickly as a result of using NHS 111 Wales.
  • 45% said when faced with a non-life-threatening emergency, they would choose to call 111 and 32% would consult the NHS 111 Wales website. 34% would contact their GP, while over a quarter would go straight to Emergency departments or MIUs.
  • By using NHS 111 Wales, they could be seen and treated more quickly. This could be as a result of advice to use a different NHS service, being called back by a healthcare professional or even being given an appointment at A&E or an MIU.
  • Most of those surveyed felt confident using the NHS 111 Wales website or online symptom checker (65%) for advice for a non-life-threatening illness or injury.
  • The majority (64%) were also comfortable to call 111 for advice with an urgent, non-life-threatening illness or injury
  • 20% of local people questioned were not convinced that this would enable them to speak to a healthcare professional straight away and only 17% were aware that appointments to some MIUs can also be booked for them when calling 111.

Dr Owen Weeks, Interim Clinical Director for Urgent Primary Care CTM UHB said:

“People’s confidence in online and telephone consultation for non-emergency care is key to ensuring our communities can access the right NHS service for them, and more quickly.  People being comfortable checking their symptoms online and having help to navigate the array of NHS services to identify the right one for their individual complaint is a real opportunity to improve timely, appropriate care and treatment.

“It can be confusing to know what the best avenue is: if it’s life-or-limb-threatening patients should call 999. If it’s an ongoing concern, patients should contact their usual healthcare provider. If patients are unsure who to contact, they use the NHS 111 Wales website, symptom checker or phone line to identify best next steps.

“Using NHS 111 Wales should also reduce individuals using 999 calls for non-emergencies, making sure that our ambulance crews can get to those patients with serious illness or injury who need treatment as soon as possible.”

What is NHS 111 Wales?

·       A website (search NHS 111) and online symptom checkers – a quick and convenient way for you to access information and advice wherever, and whenever you need it.

·       A 24-hour phone line (call 111). Sometimes it’s helpful to speak to a person, so if you can’t find the information you need on the NHS 111 Wales website, you’ve completed the symptom checker and it suggests you give us a call, or you continue to be concerned about yourself or someone you care for, you can call 111 and get advice on what to do next.

When should I use it?

·       It should be your first port-of-call if you feel under the weather but are not sure what’s wrong or if you have an urgent but not life-threatening condition or injury.

What sort of advice will I get on the phone?

·       The NHS 111 Wales telephone service allows you to:

o   Get self-care advice.

o   Find out what local health service can help you or how to get any medicine you may need.

o   Speak to a healthcare professional.

What if it’s an emergency?

·       You should always dial 999 for life-threatening and really serious emergencies or injuries, such as choking, cardiac arrest, stroke and severe blood loss.