NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging local people to ‘think 111’ and to contact NHS 111 by phone or online before travelling to a local urgent treatment centre (previously known as walk-in centres).
Contacting NHS 111 in the first instance ensures that everyone who needs urgent care will get the right treatment, more quickly, and also keeps everyone as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A fully trained operator is contactable at any time – day or night – and they’ll be able to advise patients where to go and when to receive treatment.
Those who have been referred via NHS 111 will have priority for treatment. People arriving at urgent treatment centres without a referral from NHS 111 may be directed elsewhere without being seen – unless there’s a clear medical need for immediate care.
Dr Richard Mendelsohn, the CCG’s Chief Medical Officer and a local GP said: “If you have an urgent medical problem, and you’re not sure what to do, it’s more important than ever that you contact NHS 111 either by phone or online.
“Due to COVID-19, we’re all adapting and doing things differently; and your local NHS is no exception.
“In order to maintain and control social distancing in urgent treatment centres and to keep local people and NHS staff safe, we cannot have people attending the urgent treatment centres in an uncontrolled way. It’s really important that we are able to socially distance and ensure infection prevention measures are in place.”
Dr Mendelsohn also stressed that encouraging people to contact NHS 111 does not replace what you should do if you have serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries, such as a heart attack or a stroke. In these instances, you should call 999 immediately.
NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG is not alone in implementing these changes, organisations across the country are introducing changes in response to COVID-19 and the ongoing need to protect people from infection.