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2,500 people getting urgent NHS help over the phone in the North East everyday

Around 2500 people per day in the North East of England now receive urgent health advice over the phone via the NHS 111 service, according to latest NHS data.

  Ahead of the busy winter months, a new NHS campaign is encouraging people to take advantage of health advice by phone, with the latest statistics showing that more people than ever are receiving advice from a clinician when they dial 111.

A new 'Help Us, Help You' winter campaign, which includes 111 advertising, has been designed to ensure people know where to access the most appropriate service when they need it.

Offering expert clinical advice to people seeking help over the phone is a core part of improving access to urgent NHS help, and reducing pressure on A&E services, as the NHS continues to develop a long-term plan for care.

Figures show that almost half of those who used the 111 phone service in the North East this October received expert assessment from a clinical professional.

While all calls answered by NHS 111 are handled by fully trained staff who can advise, signpost to local services or arrange appointments for further assessment, increasing numbers of callers now also receive clinical advice directly from a clinical professional.

The proportion of telephone calls receiving direct input from doctors, nurses and other clinicians has been steadily increasing every month since it was first collected in November in 2016, when one in four people spoke to a trained clinical professional via 111.

Last month in the North East, only one in ten callers to 111 was advised to visit A&E, while over 20% were reassured that they need not attend any further NHS service, advised to self-care or were signposted to a non-clinical advice.

NHS England's Medical Director for Cumbria and the North East, Professor Chris Gray, said: "Every day in the North East of England, thousands of people find NHS 111 offers expert advice without the need to visit A&E. 

"Over winter, when pressure on services is at its highest, anyone in need of help for a life-threatening emergency can continue to get help at their A&E, but with almost a million people in the North East using NHS 111 in the past year alone, it's clear that there are safe alternatives to A&E for less severe issues. 

"As part of the long-term plan for the health service, the NHS in England is rapidly expanding access to urgent and emergency care by increasing community services, investing in the most up to date technology and improving over the phone advice. This means that more people get the right care, at the right time while reducing the pressure on ambulance and A&E services."

Members of the public called the NHS 111 service in England over 1.3 million times in October, an increase of 6% compared with the same time last year. 38,500 people received help via the phone line each day last month, contributing to the total of around 16.5 million calls to 111 in the past twelve months.

The most recent patient survey results from the service also suggest 111 is beginning to ease the pressure on frontline services.

More than one in four people said they would have gone to A&E and 16% said they would have called an ambulance had 111 not been available.

Sue Tucker, Head of Emergency Operations Centre at North East Ambulance Service, who operate the 111 service in the North East said: "NHS 111 is much more than a helpline. You can speak to fully trained advisors available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, who can put you in touch with relevant healthcare professionals, including nurses, paramedics, emergency dentists, or even GPs.

"People should continue to dial 999 in a medical emergency - when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk."

 

Published 14th November 2018

'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very thankful and relieved patient'.

Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital of North Durham