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Your voice on health and social care

Improved access to urgent care services from September


People across the Thames Valley (Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire) will have new and improved access to urgent care services from 5 September 2017.

Currently NHS 111 is a free national telephone service to assess the level of care that someone needs and signpost them to an appropriate healthcare service. It does not offer a diagnosis but assesses and provides advice on the person’s symptoms, suggests the type of care they need, how soon they should access this and what local healthcare services are available.

 So what’s new? 

 NHS England is rolling out Integrated Urgent Care across the country and Thames Valley is an early adopter of this exciting new service. It brings together 111, Out of Hours primary care and a range of other services which will be accessible through a single phone call.

  Simply put, patients will continue to call the 111 number and the trained call handler will assess the person’s needs. They will be able to arrange for the patient to see or speak to a healthcare professional 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including GPs where this is clinically appropriate.

 The new Thames Valley 111 will help patients access a wide range of clinical care through a single call, including dental, pharmacy and mental health services. By calling 111, patients will have access to assessment from a range of trained call handlers and clinicians all day, every day. They can ensure patients get the right care, first time.

 It is expected that approximately 30 per cent of calls will be handled by a healthcare professional from day one of the new service.   

 For the launch, clinicians will be based at SCAS Headquarters in Bicester and at the Berkshire Healthcare Hub in Wokingham, linked via a telephone network to allow seamless management of patients.  

 The new Thames Valley 111 telephone service (Thames Valley Urgent Integrated Care) is being launched by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) in collaboration with Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust.  

 Where integrated urgent care services have been launched elsewhere in the UK they have reduced the number of A&E admissions and ambulance call-outs.