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Residents and holiday makers urged to make use of 111 online for medical support

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Residents and holiday makers urged to make use of 111 online for medical support
05 August 2021

With demand for 999 attendance increasing and St. Mary’s Hospital Emergency Department helping more people, we are encouraging the public, where appropriate, to use NHS 111 online for medical advice.

The NHS 111 online service offers people quick advice on the best option for them to get the care they need, including getting a call back from a trained clinician, booking them an arrival time at A&E or providing advice on how to help them recover. The request comes as demand for emergency medical support continues to rise.

Our Ambulance Service received 528 emergency 999 calls last week – 24.5% higher than in the same week in 2019 before the pandemic, with call handlers reporting some 999 calls in recent days have been for non-emergency issues such as sunburn, insect bites and domestic flooding.

We would also like to remind people to use NHS 111 first before turning up at the A&E department. NHS 111 can ensure people are directed to the right location for their care.

Victoria White, Head of Ambulance said: “Our frontline ambulance crews, 999 and 111 call handlers and the many other teams who ensure we can respond to patients as quickly as possible are working extremely hard as we see continued increase demand for our services.

“We are prioritising those patients that are most sick and severely injured and everyone who needs an ambulance will get one, however there are other and often better options for people to get the care they need.

“As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the public can play their part by using 111 online for urgent advice, calling 999 in life threatening cases and calling back only if their condition worsens.”

The public is still being encouraged to contact 999 if they experience:

  • signs of a heart attack like a pain like a heavy weight in the centre of your chest
  • signs of stroke such as your face dropping on one side
  • difficulty breathing
  • heavy bleeding that won’t stop
  • seizures or
  • sudden and rapid swelling of the eyes, lips, throat or tongue.

A number of factors are thought to be contributing to the rise in demand for emergency care including the recent warmer weather, an increase in Covid-19 transmission rates in the community and an increase in the public spending time outside as restrictions ease.

Joe Smyth, Chief Operating Officer said “The pressures we are witnessing on our Ambulance Service impact the Emergency Department here at St. Mary’s Hospital. We are pleased to be able to provide the 111 service to our Island community, including the online support. It allows us to direct people to the most appropriate care setting for their treatment.

You should continue to use 999 if you have a serious or life-threatening condition or accident. However, when you think you need A&E, use NHS 111 first. It may well save you a trip to the hospital, and if you do need to attend it is likely to reduce the time for you to be seen.” 

National Strategic Adviser of Ambulance Services, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Anthony Marsh, said:

“This is a really tough time for ambulance staff, who are working round the clock to deal with an increased number of calls, and I’d like to pay tribute to their continued efforts to ensure patients get the care they need.

“With pressure on services still high, the public can help us to help them by using 111 online to get medical advice, and of course the most important thing we can all do at the moment is get the Covid-19 vaccine - both doses - which protects us, our families and friends and will help to reduce pressure on the NHS as well.”

People can access 111 online at: www.111.nhs.uk

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