As pressure on our health and social care system continues to grow, locals in Mid Ulster have been urged to use the ‘Phone First’ service to identify the right service for their needs.
‘Phone First’ aims to ensure patients can get direct access to the right care, avoiding busy waiting rooms and staying safe.
The service is designed for patients, including children, who may be considering travelling to the Minor Injury Unit or Emergency Departments, with an injury or illness which requires urgent treatment but is not immediately life threatening.
To use ‘Phone First’ call 0300 123 1 123
The ‘Phone First’ text relay number is 18001 0300 123 1 123 and it’s also available through the Interpreter Now App.
For all emergencies that are life threatening always call 999 immediately. This can include: Stroke, heart attack, loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or major trauma.
The service is available for the Mid Ulster Minor Injury Unit in Magherafelt. Keira Nelson, Emergency Nurse Practitioner in the Unit, explained: “Phone First is about making it easier for our patients to access services and to reach the appropriate service for their needs first time.
The service improves patient safety in terms of preventing overcrowding and reducing long waits in our EDs and Minor Injuries Service. Given the extremely high levels of transmission currently the service will also importantly help to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection and transmission.”
A minor injuries unit treats injuries to upper and lower limbs, broken bones, sprains, bruises and wounds, bites, burns and scalds, abscesses and wound infections, minor head injuries, broken noses and nosebleeds and foreign bodies in the eyes and nose. It is important to note that the unit cannot see head injuries, neck, chest, back or hip pain or injury and abdominal, gynaecological or pregnancy related issues. They also cannot see children under three years of age.
The Phone First service launched in Causeway Hospital Emergency Department on Tuesday 17 November and in Antrim and Mid Ulster Hospitals on Tuesday 1 December. Feedback from patients using the service has been very positive in terms of their call, triage, waiting time to see a doctor, treatment and overall patient experience.
Dr Mark Jenkins, an Emergency Medicine consultant at Antrim Area Hospital appealed to the public: “We need your help at this extremely difficult time and I encourage patients to please ‘Phone First’ if your condition is not life threatening.”
More information is available in Phone First Frequently Asked Questions.