Londoners to get NHS urgent and emergency care in the right place, at the right time with 111 First

04 November 2020

How people access parts of emergency care in London is changing, with ‘111 First’ helping them to get 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/ED) if they have an urgent, but not life-threatening, medical need. 

The new arrangements will also help the NHS to better control the risk of coronavirus while space in A&E waiting rooms is reduced to ensure social distancing.

From 1 December, 111 can arrange an urgent face-to-face A&E appointment during an allocated time slot 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.

NHS111 can also make direct appointments online, by phone or face-to-face with a variety of health services, including Urgent Treatment Centres, a patient’s own GP, specialised mental health crisis services, dental services and pharmacists for urgent repeat prescriptions and advice.  If needed, an ambulance can also be despatched.

NHS 111 online or by phone, which is being significantly expanded in the capital, is already available at any time of day or night with trained health advisers, doctors, nurses, paramedics or pharmacists able to get people the right NHS care quickly and in the right place.

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. To make sure we maintain social distancing in our A&E departments, we may direct patients to other services where they can be seen quickly and safely.

GP practices are open as usual. Contact your practice, as you normally would, if you need an appointment with your GP. Local GP practices can see patients for same-day appointments when needed, with consultations offered by telephone, online and video consultations so you can easily get the right help and advice without having to travel. If you are invited in for a face to face appointment, measures are in place to keep you and everyone else safe. 

When will this change take place?

Allocated face-to-face A&E appointment time slots across north east London will be available for patients who need them in the following order:

  • From 30 September: Royal London Hospital
  • By 31 October: Newham Hospital, Whipps Cross Hospital,
  • By 30 November: Queens Hospital (Romford), King George Hospital (Goodmayes) Homerton Hospital.

To support the 111 First initiative as we go into the traditionally busy winter period, capacity in the NHS 111 service is being expanded significantly.

Around 2,500 staff look after Londoners as part of the NHS 111 service, 24/7 365 days of the year; this number will be expanded by 644, including 166 more doctors, nurses, pharmacists and paramedics.

London’s approach has been developed by hospital consultants, GPs, nurses, paramedics pharmacists, social workers, mental health specialists, NHS 111 teams in the capital, using local knowledge and expertise.  This is similar to that being used across the rest of the country but the region has also spoken with a number of people from across the capital to get their views and considered their feedback as part of the design process, ensuring the approach works for Londoners.  

For more information on when and how to contact the NHS for urgent or emergency medical help, or how to contact NHS 111.