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 (EDs) 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?
If you have an urgent problem (excluding serious illness or injury) and are considering travelling to Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital EDs or the Mid Ulster Hospital Minor Injuries Unit, please ‘Phone First’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on:
0300 123 1 123
Text Relay: 18001 0300 123 1 123 or ‘Interpreter Now’ app
What is the service?
When you call the ‘Phone First’ service for Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital EDs 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 arrangements made for you to access the most appropriate service to your needs.
Arrangements will then be made for the most appropriate urgent care service for your needs. This may mean an appointment at a hospital ED, organising rapid tests or assessment or redirecting you to your local GP, GP Out-of-Hours or the nearest Minor Injuries Unit.
Why is the service needed?
With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in our community, it is even more important than ever that patients who need emergency treatment aren’t asked to wait in crowded waiting rooms where they may be exposed to COVID-19.
When you have an urgent healthcare need, it is still important that you get advice and treatment, but this doesn’t always need to be in an ED. This new service will ensure that you get the right treatment, in the right place and at the right time, whilst reducing the risks to yourself and others.
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’?
If you are feeling unwell and believe it is not life threatening and plan on travelling to Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital EDs 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 dialling 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 new telephone number will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for patients who are feeling unwell and considering travelling to Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital EDs 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 for Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital EDs or the Mid Ulster Hospital Minor Injuries Unit, a clinician will assess your condition, or the condition of the person on whose behalf you have called.
They will then make arrangements for the most appropriate urgent care service for your needs or the needs of the person on whose behalf you have called.
This may mean an appointment at an ED, organising rapid tests or assessment or redirecting you to your local GP, GP Out-of-Hours or the nearest Minor Injuries Unit.
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
You can also access the service by downloading the Interpreter Now app onto your mobile phone. Once registered you can access a remote interpreter at any time, free of charge. Use this service to contact the ‘Phone First’ number: 0300 123 1 123
The Interpreter Now app is available in the app store.
What is the difference between the GP Out-of-Hours and this new service?
The Phone First service is available 24/7 for people with conditions that may cause them to consider travelling to the Antrim Area or Causeway Hospital Emergency Departments EDs or the Mid Ulster Hospital Minor Injuries Unit.