Five years after its launch in the North East, a string of innovations is moving the NHS111 service from strength to strength.
North East Ambulance Service call handlers now answer more than one million calls a year. Of those, the majority – around 800,000 – are from NHS111 patients. Fewer people now ring 999 and a small number of NHS111 calls require an ambulance – although the total of overall ambulance dispatches has remained unchanged.
Instead, innovation in the operations centre has helped to shift demand away from emergency care and into urgent care, pioneering new services for patients, such as:
· Working with GPs across the North East to allow our call handlers to book appointments directly into their practices for patients, which is now being expanded to include urgent care and walk in centres;
· Offering an urgent medical supply service for patients requiring emergency repeat prescriptions;
· Piloting a dental service in Tweedmouth, Durham and Darlington and the South Tees areas, enabling patients to access an emergency dental care appointment
Gillian MacArthur, Head of Operations Centre, said: “Our service is now so much more than 999, with a real focus of pushing boundaries to pioneer services for the benefit of our patients. We have so much to be proud of as an organisation, not least in our NHS111 service where we are leading the country in a number of areas.
“It’s important for us to recognise how far we have come and to really celebrate our achievements and we hope the service can continue its journey towards a greater future of collaborating with other NHS providers in a way that gives patient the seamless service they expect.”