Public urged: use NHS 111 Online to ease record pressure on A&E as winter looms

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NHS England is urging people to use its online service in a bid to reduce ‘record’ demand for accident and emergency (A&E) services.

The annual NHS 111 Online campaign was launched on Thursday, reminding people they can use the service to get urgent healthcare online.

It can direct people to the most appropriate local treatment option, NHS England said.

People should always call 999 and go to A&E when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is in danger, he added.

It is estimated that up to two-fifths of A&E attendances are avoidable or could be better treated elsewhere, NHS England said.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of the NHS, said: “Last month our hardworking staff faced another record month of A&E attendances and the most serious ambulance calls, which is only the tip of the iceberg of the growing pressures the NHS is facing this winter, including the threat of a ‘twin epidemic’ of Covid and flu, and reduced hospital capacity caused by problems with referring patients to the social care.

“This new campaign will remind the public that NHS 111 Online is available to tell people the best option for their care needs ahead of winter – it can quickly provide the most appropriate local treatment option for medical issues without having to leave your home and save yourself an unnecessary trip to A&E.

“It is vital that people continue to use A&E and call 999 in an emergency, so as always please come in for any care you may need.”

NHS 111 Online asks people to enter their postcode, age, gender and main symptoms before asking a series of questions about their health condition.

It was the busiest October ever at A&E and for the most serious ambulance calls, NHS England said.

More than 2.17 million patients attended A&E services in England during this period, it added.

Ambulance services also responded to 83,986 calls, he added.

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