A better 111 service for Kent, Medway and Sussex

Last summer the NHS Commissioners in Kent, Medway and Sussex announced that South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) had been awarded a five year contract to provide the new NHS 111 service. The new service is due to start in April this year.

SECAmb will be the lead organisation, working together with Integrated Care 24 (IC24), to deliver a new 111 service for people living in Kent, Medway and Sussex. Currently the two organisations already provide some 111 services across the region but the new service will include much more.

The new contract, worth £18.1 million in 2020/21 and £90.5 million overall, enables SECAmb and IC24 to develop a combined NHS 111 telephone helpline and Clinical Assessment Service which aims to better meet patients’ healthcare needs on their first call.

The Clinical Assessment Service is new and will mean patients can access a wider range of healthcare professionals, such as GPs, paramedics, nurses and pharmacists. Each of these specialist clinicians will be able to ‘Hear and Treat’. This means listen to the caller’s complaints and give advice on how to care for themselves or where they might go to receive assistance. These clinicians can also set up e-consultations where patients are able to go online and directly book people into urgent care appointments. Over the phone prescriptions can also be issued by these clinicians where appropriate.

Being able to speak to a clinician sooner will help patients to get the best from the new 111 service.

Here is a reminder of when to call 111:

Call NHS 111 when...

  • you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency
  • you have an urgent medical problem but are unsure what to do
  • you don’t know who to call or you don’t have a GP to call
  • you need health information or reassurance about what to do next

You can access the service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 111 - free of charge - or by searching 111.nhs.uk online.

You can also access 111 through the new Online NHS App which is gradually being rolled out across England. As a symptom checker, source of medical advice and information, 111 Online is a great self-help tool. If the App determines that further investigation is required a clinician will call you back to discuss your complaint in further detail.

Overall this improved 111 service featuring the Clinical Assessment Service should mean we all get better care and the less people that need to go to A&E unnecessarily. Also, if SECAmb isn’t dispatching as many ambulances to non-life-threatening calls this means there are more vehicles available to the next caller, resulting in better response times for patients.

Our Healthwatch volunteers have been involved in the whole process from helping to choose the provider of the service through the design and now implementation phase. Perhaps you would like to be a volunteer and get involved in similar projects to improve our health and social care services? Get in touch!

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