NHS Commissioners in Kent, Medway and Sussex announced that South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) had been awarded a five-year contract to provide the new NHS 111 and Clinical Assessment Service, commencing April 2020. NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do.
SECAmb will act as the lead provider with Integrated Care 24 (IC24) working in partnership to deliver key elements of the new service. Collectively, the two organisations already provide interim 111 services across all of the region that this contract will serve.
The new contract, worth £18.1million in 2020/21 and £90.5million overall, enables SECAmb and IC24 to develop an integrated NHS 111 telephone helpline and Clinical Assessment Service which aims to better meet patients’ healthcare needs on their first call.
The Clinical Assessment Service means patients will benefit from greater access to a wider range of healthcare professionals, such as GPs, paramedics, nurses and pharmacists. Each of these specialist clinicians will be able to ‘Hear and Treat’ i.e. listen to the caller’s complaints and give advice on how to care for themselves or where they might go to receive assistance, they can set up e-consultations where patients are able to get online, and directly book people into onward urgent care appointments, if they need one. They can also issue prescriptions over the phone when appropriate.
Whether over the internet or on the phone, being able to speak to a clinician sooner will give patients real confidence in the care they stand to receive via 111.
Call NHS 111 when…
- you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency
- you have an urgent medical problem but are unsure what to do
- you don’t know who to call or you don’t have a GP to call
- you need health information or reassurance about what to do next
You can access the service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by dialling 111 from a landline or mobile – free of charge – or by visiting 111.nhs.uk. You can also access 111 Online through the new NHS App, which is being gradually rolled out across England.
You will then be asked a series of simple questions to help clarify your current condition and personal information such as gender, age and location.
As a symptom checker and source of medical advice and information, 111 Online is a great self-help tool but should the questionnaire determine that further investigation is required, a clinician will call you back to discuss your complaint in further detail.
Overall, this improved 111 service featuring the Clinical Assessment Service means more joined up care and better outcomes, both for patients and the local healthcare system. The more people we can collectively treat to a satisfactory standard through 111, the less pressure we are putting on 999 and hospital A&E departments. And if SECAmb isn’t dispatching as many ambulances to non-life-threatening calls, that makes more vehicles available to the next caller, in turn improving response times for patients.