RESIDENTS in need of urgent medical care must now phone NHS 111 before going to the Emergency Department.
The changes are being rolled out across the country to ease the pressure on medical teams, and ensure people are getting the right type of treatment, in the right place.
Dr Zac Etheridge, clinical lead for Acute Medicine at The Royal Berkshire Hospital said the new way of working would cut queues, overcrowding and long waits at the hospital — which could also reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection.
“NHS 111 First will help people get the most appropriate care for their medical condition. Many people who come to ED don’t have emergency, life threatening conditions and could be treated elsewhere, often more quickly,” Dr Etheridge said. “So while we still need people to ring 999 and come to ED during emergencies, we would ask those seeking non emergency care to contact NHS 111 First. They will then receive the best care in a timely and more convenient way.”
On calling 111, a specially trained operator will triage the call and direct each person to the most appropriate medical support — this could be a booked appointment at the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) on the hospital site, or the local Walk in Centre in Reading, a GP, pharmacy, dentist or optician.
But for emergencies including suspected heart attacks, strokes, or serious breathing difficulties, residents should still dial 999 for help or make their way to ED immediately.