New appointment system to help keep patients safe

A new appointment system for urgent services will be available across Hertfordshire and west Essex from the start of December.

The a111 Blue RGB2pproach is being introduced nationwide to help keep urgent NHS services safe and to make sure that they are available for everyone who needs them. 

You should always call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured, or if their life is at risk. NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. Anyone going online to or calling the free NHS 111 number will be given a thorough assessment and then helped to find treatment, which could be their local pharmacy, their GP surgery or an appointment slot if necessary at an Urgent Treatment Centre or Emergency department.

Dr Vishen Ramkisson, the GP leading on the introduction of this new approach to urgent care for Hertfordshire and west Essex said: “It’s vitally important that everybody who needs urgent care is seen and treated safely in the right place, first time. Waiting for hours in an emergency department to be seen for a minor injury or illness is not in anyone’s interests. By picking up the phone and dialling 111 or going online to before making the decision to travel, patients can be assured that the right clinician is expecting to see them, when an appointment is necessary.”

“An appointment system will help to ensure that everyone who needs urgent care help can be seen safely and comfortably. This way of working will help our residents to get the help they need without spending time in a waiting room where the likelihood of contracting COVID-19, flu or other viruses is increased.”

NHS 111 can already make booked appointments with GP surgeries and pharmacies, or divert a call to the ambulance service if necessary. Callers can also get directly through to a specialist mental health team. The addition is that from 1 December, NHS 111 will be able to make somebody a booked appointment at an Emergency Department or Urgent Treatment Centre too.

This new approach has been agreed as a result of successful partnership working between staff from our three ‘acute’ hospitals in Watford, Stevenage and Harlow, GP-led clinical commissioning groups and the local NHS 111 service.

View a video featuring local Emergency Department staff highlighting the new ways of working.