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111 First to go live imminently amid ‘vehement’ opposition in some EDs

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Emergency care leaders are warning it will take up to six more months to determine whether pilots of a radical change to accident and emergency are working, even though it is due to go live nationally next week, HSJ  has learned.

HSJ understands the new “111 First” system — where walk-in patients not in medical emergencies call 111 to “book” urgent care — is set to “go live” across England from next week following pilots in acute trusts which have been run since the summer.

From 1 December, people will be able to call NHS 111 from anywhere in the country and have urgent care “booked” for them if needed, it is understood. NHS England has been pursuing the 111 First model to help reduce overcrowding and the risk of nosocomial infections in A&Es. The service is also intended to be able to book them into GP practice appointments.

Well-placed sources confirmed most acute trusts have now implemented some form of 111 First and the model is set to be part of their standard operations when the national system “goes live” next week. A national advertising campaign is expected to promote the approach.

But the Royal College of Emergency Care Medicine said there was a “vocal minority” of clinicians who are “vehemently against” 111 First as they believe it will increase demand in emergency departments.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 25 November 2020

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