Phone First 0300 123 1123

Phone First – Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Phone First for?

Phone First is for patients (including children):

  • who are unwell and considering travelling to Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital emergency departments or the Mid Ulster Hospital minor injuries unit
  • with an injury or illness which requires urgent treatment but is not immediately life threatening.

What is the Phone First number?

From Monday to Friday, between 8am – 6pm, excluding bank holidays, if you have an urgent problem (excluding serious illness or injury) and are considering travelling to Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital emergency departments or the Mid Ulster Hospital minor injuries unit, please Phone First on:

0300 123 1 123

Text Relay: 18001 0300 123 1 123
Video Relay Service: Sign Video

What is the service?

When you call the Phone First service for Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital emergency departments or the Mid Ulster Hospital minor injuries unit, your condition, or that of the person you are calling on behalf of, will be clinically assessed and you will be directed to the most appropriate service based on your needs.

This may mean attending a hospital emergency department, minor injuries unit or redirecting you to your local GP, GP out-of-hours or pharmacy.  For some service users, advice may be provided on self-care management at home.  For suitable patients, Phone First may also arrange a slot for you to attend one of the nurse led minor injuries services.

Why is the service needed?

When you have an urgent healthcare need, it is important that you get advice and treatment, but this doesn’t always need to be in an emergency department. This service will ensure that you get the right treatment, in the right place and at the right time. When you Phone First you will get directed to the right service based on your need. This will help manage attendance at emergency departments and the Mid Ulster minor injuries unit.

The telephone number will be in operation from Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm for patients who are feeling unwell and considering travelling to Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital emergency departments or the Mid Ulster Hospital minor injuries unit.

When do you phone 999?

Call 999 in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

Life-threatening emergencies include:

  • loss of consciousness
  • an acute confused state
  • fits that are not stopping
  • chest pain
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • severe allergic reactions
  • severe burns or scalds

Call 999 immediately if you or someone else is having a heart attack or stroke. Every second counts with these conditions.

Also call 999 if you think someone has had a major trauma, such as after a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from height, or a serious head injury.

When do you Phone First?

Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm (excluding bank holidays)

If you are feeling unwell and believe it is not life threatening and plan on travelling to Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital emergency departments or the Mid Ulster Hospital minor injuries unit, then Phone First on 0300 123 1 123 and you will be clinically assessed and directed to the right service.

For all emergences that are life threatening always ring 999

What happens if I ring 999?

There will be no change to the response that is given by dialing 999 if your condition is life threatening.

Why is there a need to Phone First?

By phoning first, you will get directed to the right care service. This will help manage attendance at emergency departments and the Mid Ulster minor injuries unit to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding busy waiting areas.

The telephone number will be in operation from Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm for patients who are feeling unwell and considering travelling to Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital emergency departments or the Mid Ulster Hospital minor injuries unit.

Who answers the phone, a clinician or call handler?

When you call the Phone First service, a call handler will take your details and a clinician will then call you back to assess your condition and decide the most appropriate urgent care service for your needs, or the needs of the person on whose behalf you are calling.

Will the person answering my call tell me which hospital / location to go to?

When you call the Phone First service a clinician will assess your condition, or the condition of the person on whose behalf you have called.

They will then advise you on the most appropriate urgent care service based on your needs or the needs of the person on whose behalf you have called.

This may mean attending a hospital emergency department, minor injuries unit or redirecting you to your local GP, GP out-of-hours or pharmacy. For some service users, advice may be provided on self-care management at home. For suitable patients, Phone First may also arrange a slot for you to attend one of the nurse led minor injuries services.

What if I can’t get through on the phone or have been ringing and holding for a long time, how long will it take for my call to be answered?

The Phone First service aims to answer 95% of calls within the first minute.

Are all calls to the Phone First number free of charge?

No, the new Phone First number for the Northern area is 0300 123 1 123.

This is a Low Call number.

Calls made to a low call 0300 number cost the same as those made to a local area number and are included in many Landline or Mobile call plans such as Free Minutes and Friends and Family bundles.

0300 numbers within the UK are reserved exclusively for Not-For-Profit organisations, the Public sector and Charities and no revenue is paid to the owner of the number.

I’m deaf so how do I make contact?

There is a text relay number for those with a hearing impairment. The text relay number is: 18001 0300 123 1 123

A video relay service is available through Sign Video.

You can use this service to contact the Phone First number: 0300 123 1 123

What is the difference between the GP out-of-hours and this service?

The Phone First service is available Monday to Friday between the hours of 8am and 6pm (excluding bank holidays) for people with conditions that may cause them to consider travelling to the Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital emergency departments or the Mid Ulster Hospital Minor Injuries Unit.  Phone First provides a clinical triaging advice line for these patients, directing them to the most suitable care based on their need.

In contrast, the GP out of hours service is for people who need urgent medical treatment but who cannot wait until their doctor’s practice opens. The service is for terminally ill people, very sick children and frail elderly people. Dental out of hours service only treats people with dental pain, swelling or bleeding.

GP out of hours services are:

  • 6.00 pm on week days until your GP surgery opens the next morning
  • 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday
  • 24 hours on public holidays
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