People in the West Midlands encouraged to use NHS 111 for urgent care over May Bank Holiday weekend

People in the West Midlands are being urged to visit NHS 111 online over the May bank holiday weekend if they have an urgent but not life-threatening medical need.

NHS services are expected to be especially busy during the May bank holiday weekend as COVID cases in the community continue to spread.

Cases of COVID are high in the community – latest figures show over the last 7 days an average of 1,652 new cases being reported every day in the West Midlands.

In the last 7 days, 1,692 patients have been admitted with COVID-19 in the Midlands and 2,305 patients are currently in hospital with COVID-19 in the region.

NHS 111 online will help people right away and, if needed, a healthcare professional will call to ensure that people get the care that they need.

The service can also direct patients to urgent treatment centres/walk in centres, GPs, pharmacies, emergency dental services or other more appropriate local services.

NHS 111 online can also tell people where to get help for their symptoms, how to find general health information and advice, where to get emergency supplies of your prescribed medicines and how to get a repeat prescription.

People can access NHS 111 online by visiting the 111 website, but anyone who has a life-threatening illness or injury should always dial 999.

People use the online 111 service for a range of reasons, including to check their symptoms and if an injury or illness requires further investigation, to get information on mental health support services available, or to seek advice on how to take a medication.

NHS staff across the West Midlands continue to find new ways to deliver care closer to people’s homes to alleviate urgent and emergency care pressures

Hospital doctors are expanding their boundaries to see patients in their own home in much the same way as GPs – only for these patients, they are spared an admission to hospital and potentially a long stay away from home.

The EPICENTRE clinical team at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust has redefined emergency healthcare by delivering acute hospital care out of the traditional hospital environment and doing it in patients’ homes instead.

The aim is to avoid hospital admission where possible and provide like-for-like acute care in the patient’s home, with the security of transferring patients to the acute hospital if needed. In these circumstances the patient would bypass the hospital Emergency Department and get to the right place, first time. This intervention itself can reduce the length of stay in hospitals and improve health outcomes for the patient.

Dr Nigel Sturrock, Regional Medical Director at NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands, said:

“The NHS is absolutely here for you if you need help over the May bank holiday weekend.  So, if you need urgent care but it’s not life-threatening, visit 111 online first – 111 will put you in touch with a healthcare professional if needed and help you get the treatment you need.

“Using NHS 111 online first will ensure everyone who needs medical advice can access it quickly and conveniently, alongside other services, while allowing us to care for the most seriously ill and injured patients in our A&Es.

“If you do need to go into hospital there are steps in place to keep you as safe as we can. If you need to access healthcare, be that ambulance, GP or hospital, we need you to continue to wear face masks and if you have care at home, please open a window to support ventilation whilst you have visitors.

“If you are unwell please do not visit loved ones/relatives within the hospital, but please contact the hospital ward to discuss how you can be supported to maintain contact with your loved one.

“Vaccination continues to prevent a high number of hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19 and remains the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves.

“Across the West Midlands there is an ‘evergreen’ offer for COVID-19 vaccinations meaning anyone who has not yet been vaccinated is able to come forward at any time to start their vaccinations.”