‘Phone first’ before going to Emergency Department

With lockdown restrictions lifting and more leisure activities resuming, the Southern Trust is reminding people with urgent but not critical symptoms to ‘Phone first’ before attending Emergency Departments or Minor Injuries services.

Patients including children, considering attending Emergency Departments or the Minor Injuries Services at Craigavon, Daisy Hill or South Tyrone Hospital with an urgent but not life threatening injury or illness should Phone 0300 123 3 111 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm.

The ‘Phone first’ approach aims to help those patients fit to ‘walk in’ to the Emergency Department (ED), get the most appropriate care as quickly as possible and avoid busy waiting rooms.

When you ring the number, a call handler takes your details. A Senior Nurse, Physiotherapist or GP will then call you back and advise on the most suitable care. For some patients, they will advise how to self-manage their condition or direct them to their community pharmacist. Those who need urgent assessment or treatment may receive an appointment with a Physiotherapist, an urgent care GP, or could be referred to another service like Minor Injuries or their own GP.

Craigavon Area Hospital. Pic by PACEMAKER PRESS

Dr Rosemary Sloan, Clinical Lead for Urgent Care in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust explains: “The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges across health and social care, highlighting the importance of working together to improve access to our services and prioritise those who need them most.

“With increasing numbers of patients attending unscheduled care services in recent weeks, for everyone’s safety and to reduce the potential spread of infection amongst both patients and staff, we must do our very best to minimise footfall and promote social distancing in all health care facilities.

“Since we opened the ‘Phone First’ telephone line, only about one third of patients who call the number need to attend the Emergency Department whilst we have been able redirect others to a more suitable service, avoiding a potential lengthy wait in a busy waiting room.

“As always if you think the symptoms are potentially critical, like a heart attack, stroke, or major trauma, please do not delay in phoning an ambulance or getting the patient to the Emergency Department if you can.

“For everyone else, please phone first for advice and support to find the best place to treat your condition.”

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