The way the public access urgent care is changing. This is to ensure people get the right care in the right place and to keep people and the NHS safe this winter.

From 3 November, if people in Ayrshire and Arran think they need to visit accident and emergency (A&E) but it is not life-threatening, there is a new way to do that. NHS 24 telephone service on 111 will be available day or night to assess people’s needs and direct the public to the service they need. During normal opening hours people should still call their GP practice for urgent care, or get help online help from a wide range of information and resources on NHS inform.

This will help people to get the right care in the right place, often closer to home and without the need to go to A&E. In emergencies, the public should continue to call 999 or go directly to A&E.

Dr Crawford McGuffie, Medical Director and A&E Consultant, explains: “As a result of the global pandemic, how we provide services has had to change. This is so that we can keep you and the NHS safe. As we move into the busy winter period, this is more important than ever.

“So, from 3 November, if you think you need to visit A&E, but it is not life-threatening, call NHS 24 on 111.

“The NHS24 telephone service is available – day and night – to direct you to the service you need, often closer to home and without the need to go to A&E. This could include self-care, GP or primary care, pharmacy, minor injuries or referral for clinical assessment.

“If you still need to attend A&E following this assessment, you will be given a safe time for this to happen.”

From 3 November, those calling from Ayrshire and Arran are asked to:

  • use the NHS inform website to access advice on common symptoms, guidance for self-help and where to go if further medical care is needed;
  • contact their local GP practice during the day for an appointment or over the phone advice;
  • use the NHS 24 telephone service on 111 day or night when they think they need A&E but it is not life-threatening;
  • use the NHS 24 111 Mental Health Hub and Breathing Space telephone helpline to access mental health advice and guidance;
  • use NHS 24 111 service and NHS inform out of hours when they are too ill to wait for their GP practice to open, or for worsening symptoms of COVID-19; and
  • use NHS 24 telephone service 111 for non-life threatening but painful injuries, such as a deep cut, a broken or sprained ankle or a painful burn injury to get an appointment at their local minor injuries unit.

This new process for accessing urgent care will be launched nationally from 1 December. However, as part of an initial rollout of the new approach, those calling from Ayrshire and Arran will be able to call NHS 24 on 111 to be directed to the right service from 3 November.

John Burns, Chief Executive, explains: “We are delighted that NHS Ayrshire & Arran has been selected as a ‘pathfinder’ board. We have the appropriate pathways and processes in place, so that from 3 November, our citizens with have better access to the right care in the right place.

“With the current pandemic, NHS services are under more pressure and are busier than ever. You can help us keep you and our NHS safe by using our services wisely.

“And remember, if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 (new persistent cough; high temperature; and / or loss of taste and smell), please avoid entering our healthcare settings. Instead, call NHS24 on 111 for advice and support.”

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