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No More Silos: Urgent and Emergency Care FAQs

No More Silos: ‘Phone First’

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Phone First?

‘Phone First’ is a new service for people who are unwell or have an illness or injury which requires urgent treatment but is not life threatening and who are considering travelling to the following Emergency Departments (EDs) and Minor Injuries Units:

Northern Area:

Southern Area:

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 Area:

From 1 December 2020 at 10am, if you have an urgent problem (excluding serious illness or injury) and are considering travelling to any of the following sites:

You are advised to ‘Phone First’ 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on: 0300 123 1 123

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

(Text Relay: 18001 0300 123 1 123)

Southern Area:

From 30 November 2020 at 9am, if you have an urgent problem (excluding serious illness or injury) and are considering travelling to any of the following sites:

You are advised to ‘Phone First’ Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm on: 0300 123 3 111

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

(Text Relay number 18001 0300 123 3 111)

Why is the Southern HSC Trust service not operating 24/7?

Based on the Southern’s Trusts ability to staff the service, the new telephone number will initially operate from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday for patients who are considering travelling to the ED or Minor Injuries Unit with an urgent but not life threatening condition.
If the pilot is successful, it is hoped that the Southern Trusts will be able to extend these hours in the future.

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)

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.

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.