Over the two most recent Bank Holiday weekends, the south Essex NHS 111 service has been hugely busy – dealing with more than 5,000 telephone calls.
Between 19 April and 21 April 2014, 2,879 calls were made to NHS 111 and over the most recent break, between 3 May and 5 May 2014,2,510 phone calls were made to the service.
The NHS 111 service in south Essex is there for medical problems you might have and you need help or advice fast, but it might not be a 999 emergency.
For example, when your child is running a slight temperature, your elderly parent complains of pain, or you have developed a nagging earache, it’s quite often when your doctor’s surgery is closed. In these circumstances, you simply need to call 111.
The NHS 111 number is free to call and allows people to access healthcare for any health problem that is not life-threatening. You can ring the 111 number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
When patients dial 111 they are put through to highly trained call handlers, supported by experienced nurses or paramedics.
They will be clinically assessed and either given information or referred directly to the most appropriate service which can deal with their injury or illness. This may range from pharmacy, community service to out-of-hours GP, or in some cases an ambulance.
NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG commissions the NHS 111 service for the people of south Essex.
Dr Roger Gardiner, GP member of NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG and lead clinician for NHS 111 in south Essex, said: “We’re very pleased at the way the NHS 111 service is running across south Essex, it really has gone from strength-to-strength since it started last year.”
“Now we are finding that it is really embedding itself in the area with members of the public realising that they don’t always need to dial 999 if it’s not an emergency. People are realising that, by using 111 instead of 999, they are taking a huge weight off the emergency services, freeing them up to deal with people who need their life-saving skills.
“We've worked hard to make the south Essex 111 service as efficient and clinically effective as possible and I'm glad it’s being so well-used."