A new ‘Phone First’ service is being trialled at Daisy Hill and Craigavon Area Hospital Emergency Departments and South Tyrone Minor Injuries Unit from Monday, November 30.
Patients, including children, who are considering attending with an urgent but not life threatening injury or illness are being asked to ‘Phone First’.
The service will operate 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday. The ‘Phone First’ number to ring is 0300 123 3 111.
Text relay number is: 18001 0300 123 3 111
This new ‘Phone First’ approach aims to help those patients fit to ‘walk in’ to the Emergency Department (ED), get the most appropriate care as quickly as possible and avoid busy waiting rooms.
For all life threatening emergencies (including stroke, heart attack, loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or major trauma) bring the person to the ED if you can without delay, or call 999 immediately.
Explaining the background to the new ‘Phone First’ system, Interim Director of Older People and Primary Care for the Southern Trust, Brian Beattie, said: “As we move into the winter and this second wave of the pandemic, we are increasingly concerned about the volume of patients coming to our EDs.
“For everyone’s safety and to reduce the potential spread of infection amongst both patients and staff, we must do our very best to minimise footfall and promote social distancing in all health care facilities.
“We know that people who come to the Emergency Department genuinely feel they need urgent medical support. However, in many cases there may be another solution and a lengthy wait and crowding in the ED could be avoided.
“The new phone number aims to give patients some extra help in identifying the best place to help their symptoms, while freeing up space and staff time in the ED for those who need it most.
“When you ring the number, a call handler will take your details. A Senior Nurse, Physiotherapist or GP will then call you back to assess your symptoms and make arrangements for you with a service most appropriate to your needs.
“This may might be advising you to come ahead to the ED or arranging a suitable alternative for those who need urgent, although less critical support, for example at our Urgent Care Centre, with Minor Injuries, First Contact Physiotherapy, redirecting you to your GP or Community Pharmacist or offering advice for those who may just need some reassurance or guidance.
“This is a very new way of working and a huge cultural change for everyone, so we really do appeal for public support in helping us to protect our services for those who need them most by always phoning first.”
If you think you need the Emergency Department or Minor Injuries Unit phone first from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday on 0300 123 3 111.
If the situation is critical or life threatening ring 999 immediately.
It is hoped to extend these hours in the future. During all other times, please only come to the emergency with serious, acute symptoms. For other conditions, please speak to your GP or Community Pharmacist first.
When coming to our services:
– Come alone if you can
– Wear a face covering
– Sanitise your hands
– Keep your distance
– Please follow the signage and staff guidance at all times
Launched by Health Minister Robin Swann last week, Phone First is also being trialled in the Causeway Hospital Emergency Department in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.