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Patients are being asked to contact NHS 111 online ( or by phone first, before going to a hospital Accident and Emergency department (A&E/ED) if they have a medical need that is urgent but not life-threatening.

These new arrangements, launched on 1 December, are being rolled out across the country to help the NHS to better control the risk of coronavirus while space in A&E waiting rooms is reduced to ensure social distancing.

NHS111 can now arrange urgent face-to-face A&E appointments during an allocated timeslot anywhere in the country, if someone needs it - meaning shorter waiting times and fewer people in A&E. Arrangements are also in place to let A&Es know if shielding patients are coming so they can be kept safe.

NHS111 can also make direct appointments online, by phone or face-to-face with a variety of health services, including Urgent Treatment Centres, a patient’s own GP, specialised mental health crisis services, dental services and pharmacists for urgent repeat prescriptions and advice. If needed, an ambulance can also be despatched.

Arrangements will not change for people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries who should continue to dial 999 and anyone who arrives at A&E without calling NHS 111 will still receive medical care, with those needing emergency treatment prioritised.

To support this initiative as we go into the traditionally busy winter period, capacity in the NHS 111 service is being expanded significantly. Around 2,500 staff look after Londoners as part of the NHS 111 service, 24/7 365 days of the year; this number will be expanded by 644, including 166 more doctors, nurses, pharmacists and paramedics.

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