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Phone First FAQs

No More Silos: ‘Phone First’

 


  • What is Phone First?

    Phone First is a new service which is being trialled across a number of Emergency Departments (ED) in Northern Ireland.

    The Phone First service is about improving patient safety and reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission by reducing overcrowding and long waits in Emergency Departments.

    The Phone First service is designed for patients who are feeling unwell and considering travelling to an ED with an injury or illness which requires urgent treatment but is not immediately life threatening.

    It is important to note that Emergency Departments will always be a safe place for patients, and if they attend an ED without ringing first, they will not be turned away.  If their condition is not life threatening, they may have to wait longer or be signposted to another service.

    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.

    Northern Area:

    •  Antrim Area Hospital ED
    • Causeway Hospital ED
    • Mid Ulster Minor Injuries Unit

    Southern Area:

    • Craigavon Area Hospital ED
    • Daisy Hill Hospital ED
    • South Tyrone Minor Injuries Unit

    Western Area:

    • Altnagelvin Hopsital ED
    • South Western Acute Hospital ED
    • Omagh Urgent Care and Treatment Unit

    When you call the ‘Phone First’ service, a health care professional will clinically assess your condition or that of the person you are phoning on behalf of. They will then make arrangements for the most appropriate urgent care service for your needs.

    This may mean arranging an appointment at your local ED, organising rapid tests or assessment, redirecting you to your local GP, GP Out of Hours or the nearest Minor Injuries Unit or providing advice.

     

  • What is the ‘Phone First’ number?

    Northern HSC Trust Area

    • Causeway Hospital ED
    • Antrim Area Hospital ED
    • Mid Ulster Minor Injuries Unit

    This service will operate 8am to 6pm from Monday to Friday.

    Phone First Telephone: 0300 123 1 123

    For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing the Interpreter Now app or the Phone First text relay number 18001 0300 123 1 123

     

    Southern HSC Trust Area

    • Craigavon Area Hospital
    • Daisy Hill Hospital
    • South Tyrone Hospital Minor Injuries Unit, Dungannon

    This service will operate 9am to 9pm from Monday to Friday.

    Phone First Telephone: 0300 123 3 111

    For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing the Interpreter Now app or the Phone First text relay number 18001 0300 123 3 111

     

    Western HSC Trust Area

    • Altnagelvin Hospital ED
    • South West Acute Hospital ED
    • Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex, Urgent Care and Treatment Unit.

    This service will operate 8am to 12 midnight, 7 days per week.

    Phone First Telephone: 0300 020 6000

    For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing the Interpreter Now app or the Phone First text relay number 0870 240 5152

     

     

  • 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 the 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?

    For all emergencies that are life threatening always call 999 immediately.

    This can include (not exhaustive)

    • Stroke
    • Heart attack
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Breathing difficulties
    • Severe bleeding
    • Major trauma

     

     

  • When should I ‘Phone First’?

    If you are unwell or have an illness or injury which requires urgent treatment but is not life threatening and are considering travelling to the Emergency Departments (EDs) and Minor Injuries Units detailed above, then please ‘Phone First’.

    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.

     

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

    When you call the ‘Phone First’ service, a health care professional will clinically assess your condition or that of the person you are phoning on behalf of. They will then make arrangements for the most appropriate urgent care service for your needs.

    This may mean providing advice or arranging an appointment at your local ED, organising rapid tests or assessment, redirecting you to your local GP, GP Out of Hours or the nearest Minor Injuries Unit or providing advice.

     

     

  • 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 aim of the Phone First service is 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 numbers are Low Call numbers.

    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.

     

  • If I turn up at an ED will I still be seen?

    EDs will always be a safe place for patients and if you turn up without ringing first, you will not be turned away.

    However, if your condition is not life threatening, you may have to wait longer or be signposted to another service.

     

  • I’m deaf so how do I make contact?

    You can 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.

    Interpreter Now app: https://interpreternow.co.uk/hscni

    Alternatively you can contact the Text Relay services as detailed above.

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