People requiring A&E can be urged to e-book an appointment via NHS 111 underneath a trial in components of England.
The purpose is to direct sufferers to essentially the most clinically-appropriate service and to assist scale back stress on emergency departments as workers battle winter pressures, reminiscent of coronavirus and flu.
The pilots are dwell in Cornwall, Portsmouth, Hampshire and Blackpool and have simply begun in Warrington.
If they’re profitable, they could possibly be rolled out to all trusts in December.
However, individuals with a life-threatening situation ought to nonetheless name 999.
‘Best attainable recommendation’
Under the brand new adjustments, sufferers will nonetheless have the ability to search assist at A&E with out an appointment, however officers say they’re prone to find yourself ready longer than those that have gone via 111.
More NHS 111 name handlers are being introduced in to tackle the extra workload, alongside additional clinicians, the Department of Health and Social Care mentioned.
A marketing campaign known as Help Us Help You will launch later within the 12 months to induce individuals to make use of the brand new service.
The authorities has additionally pledged an additional £150m of funding to broaden and improve 25 extra A&Es to cut back overcrowding and enhance an infection management forward of winter. This was along with the £300m announced for a variety of trusts to improve their services, it mentioned.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock mentioned: “During the peak of the pandemic we saw millions of people using NHS 111 to get the best possible advice on Covid-19, and other urgent NHS services.
“These pilots will construct on this and check whether or not we will ship faster entry to the precise care, present a greater service for the general public and guarantee our devoted NHS workers aren’t overwhelmed.”
This trial scheme, which appears prone to be adopted at hospitals throughout England, will see huge adjustments to what persons are conversant in at A&E.
People who are usually not significantly ailing can be actively discouraged from arriving at emergency departments with out an appointment.
They will not be turned away, however they’ve been warned there could possibly be even longer waits than earlier than.
On the opposite hand, those that have known as NHS 111 first and been directed to A&E will get a confirmed time to see an acceptable clinician.
They may simply as simply be directed to an pressing therapy centre or a psychological well being skilled.
There’s the comprehensible purpose of reducing pointless visits, so decreasing overcrowding in ready areas at a time when hospitals need to scale back the danger of Covid-19 transmission.
But for the plan to work, an enormous public info marketing campaign is required and folks might want to have faith they will get via rapidly to an NHS 111 name handler when they should.
Data from the Department for Health and Social Care suggests there are 14.four million A&E attendances in England that haven’t gone via NHS 111, a GP or through an ambulance.
It mentioned 2.1 million attendances don’t lead to admission or therapy.
Chris Hopson, the chief govt of NHS Providers, mentioned trusts will welcome the funding, as it’ll “enable them to provide better care for their patients this winter”, including that the 111 proposals have been the “right approach”.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, mentioned the 111 scheme may have benefits for a lot of older individuals, together with avoiding ready in crowded A&Es.
“However, it is important to stress that older people who have difficulty using the phone will not be turned away if they go straight to A&E as before,” she mentioned.
The authorities additionally introduced a session on new targets for ready occasions in A&E is being launched as ministers put together to scrap the present four-hour goal.
Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, mentioned: “Expansion of NHS 111 will help patients to be seen more quickly by the service most appropriate to their needs.
“We are happy to have reached the session part of how A&E efficiency is measured with a deal with the secure, well timed care of the very sickest sufferers, and stay up for the publication of the proposals.”