Free health helpline gives urgent over the phone advice from clinical experts

GPs, nurses, paramedics and pharmacists will soon be giving urgent expert advice over the phone through the free NHS 111 helpline, 24 hours a day. 

This is thanks to a new contract for an integrated NHS 111 and clinical assessment service which was awarded today by north east London NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to London Ambulance Service. 

Dr Kate Adams, Clinical Lead for integrated urgent care for North East London Commissioning Alliance – which is made up of the seven CCGs – said:

“It’s really important that people know that the new NHS 111 will be so much more than an urgent advice line. 

“From this summer there will be clinical experts available to assess people’s urgent symptoms and give their expert opinion. They’ll be on hand 24/7 and will also book appointments for people with the most appropriate NHS service when they need them. 

“This means no more sitting around waiting for hours in A&E to speak to a clinician. If you’re ill and not sure what to do, call 111. Help us keep our busy A&Es free to treat those who need emergency, life-saving care.” 

The new service, which will be run by London Ambulance Service, will be integrated with other urgent care services such as urgent care centres, GP practices, GP hubs, mental health services, and pharmacies across the area. 

Dr Fenella Wrigley, Medical Director for London Ambulance Service said:

“We’re really pleased to be awarded the contract and have extensive experience providing urgent care. 

“This is good news for patients who, rather than be signposted to other services, will receive health advice, a prescription and an appointment for further treatment if needed, all from one call.” 

This is the first joint commissioning contract awarded by the seven north east London CCGs – Waltham Forest, Newham, Tower Hamlets, City and Hackney, Barking and Dagenham, Havering, and Redbridge CCGs. 

Dr Anwar Khan, Lead Chair for North East London Commissioning Alliance said:

“This is a significant step for the NHS and for local people. It is the first time our local NHS organisations have come together in this way to plan for and buy services jointly. 

“This is the way of the future as we shape services which are consistent across north east London, formed around local people and put their needs first.” 

Local people from across the community helped shape the new service and the process for selecting the organisation which would deliver it. Young people, carers, older people, representatives of the traveller community and different faith groups all took part in planning the specification for the service to make sure it would truly meet the needs of those who live in the area.