Improving access to urgent care

NHS 111

We need to ensure that the urgent and emergency care system is responsive to the needs of patients, and NHS 111 is crucial to this – reducing demand on emergency care and be convenient for patients, especially with clinical input and oversight.

Clinical advice to NHS 111 underpins our plan to assess and direct patients to the most appropriate point of care so we are looking to better use clinicians in 111 for the patients who will benefit most.

Over the pandemic we have seen the advantages of 111 online and we will further expand it through its continued promotion and development.

We know from our engagement the importance of NHS 111 to families. The NHS will therefore expand advice offered through NHS.UK and NHS 111 online to provide dedicated paediatric advice and guidance for families to support decision making around care options.

We are also doing more to support people to access mental health support with urgent mental health support being accessible across England by using NHS 111 and selecting ‘option 2’ by April 2024.

Urgent treatment centres

Some patients that come to emergency departments would get better, quicker care if they are navigated to an urgent treatment centre (UTC). Integrated care boards (ICBs) will determine where these will be most effective; this may be co-located with the local emergency department or a standalone service either on or off a hospital site.

Guidance and resources

Urgent treatment centres – principles and standards: Following publication of the Delivery plan for recovering urgent and emergency care services, NHS England has refreshed the UTC principles and standards to reflect changing ways of working, and the importance of UTCs as part of integrated urgent and emergency care systems. These standards apply to both co-located and standalone (UTCs) and describe the minimum expectation across these services.

Urgent treatment centres – principles and standards – frequently asked questions (FAQs): These FAQs support integrated care boards and providers to deliver UTCs that meet the refreshed standards for the service.