Patients turning up to A&E without pre-booking an appointment may not be seen, but rather asked to phone NHS 111 on the spot, in the latest area to assume a call-before-you-walk urgent care model.
Previously, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) had stressed that patients who turn up at A&E without booking would still be seen under the controversial NHS 111 First model, although they may need to wait longer.
But a notice from Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland CCGs said that ‘if people attend the emergency department at Leicester Royal Infirmary with a non-emergency condition and have not already contacted NHS 111, they could be asked to contact NHS 111 whilst on-site and be referred to another service’ such as a GP or pharmacist.
‘The new move will prevent overcrowding and enable social distancing in waiting areas at the emergency department of the Leicester Royal Infirmary and other urgent care settings,’ it added.
The NHS 111 First model has been piloted in at least one hospital trust in each region since last month and is set to be rolled out to all trusts by December.
Debra Mitchell, acting chief operating officer at Leicester’s Hospitals, added that patients with a ‘genuine emergency’ should still call 999 and would access urgent care ‘without delay’.
And the area’s NHS 111 provider, DHU Health Care said it has ‘recruited extra staff to cope with the expected increase in calls to NHS 111’.
The news of the NHS 111 First pilots, revealed in July this year, came three years after Pulse exclusively reported that the Government and NHS England were in talks about such plans.The Welsh Government is also planning to roll out a call-before-you-walk A&E model across the country, following pilots.