NHS update and launch of NHS 111 First

HELLO everyone and welcome to this week’s blog.

I hope you have all been keeping well and managing to cope OK in the heat we have had over the past few days. With that heat very much on my mind it might seem strange for me now to talk about how we move into the next phase of our response to COVID and how we think about the months ahead, specifically the winter period and the issues that it inevitably brings.

The Trust must fully prepare for the possibility of a second peak as well as making robust plans for a potentially bad flu season. This year’s flu vaccination campaign will be more important than ever and will have to take COVID into consideration.

Crowded waiting rooms in emergency departments can no longer be the norm, particularly in light of the risks this poses of transmission of COVID 19. In Lancashire and South Cumbria we are starting work on rollout of the new national NHS 111 First programme with Blackpool chosen to pilot the scheme which will start later this month.

NHS 111 First is part of a national integrated programme to improve outcomes and experience of urgent and emergency care. To keep patients safe and allow them to maintain social distancing we are asking them to call NHS 111 before they go to the Emergency Department. NHS 111 will then book them into a time slot at the emergency department, or at the most appropriate local service for the patient. All patients who need a blue light response will still receive one.

NHS 111 First will ensure that patients can access the clinical service they need, first time, with the convenience of a booked appointment or time slot if they need to attend an emergency department. Blackpool is one of two ‘first mover’ sites, in the North West, who will adopt the approach by the end of August, enabling us to test processes, check safety, understand any system impacts and evaluate the service. We are seeing a great deal of enthusiasm over this approach, given the potential to address congestion in emergency departments and social distancing requirements, as well as to redirect patients to more clinically appropriate options.

It is great to see Blackpool leading this change and we will continue to keep you updated as things progress.

Look after your health and wellbeing

ONE of the messages I have continually stressed in recent months is the need for all staff to look after their own health and wellbeing.

The last six months have been intense and a huge challenge for everyone and we know this has taken its toll on individuals and teams who have been through so much. I want to remind you all about the need to take your leave when you can and look after your own physical and mental health. I was so pleased to see that the new NHS People Plan I mentioned last week speaks about this in depth.

If you are struggling at times it is totally understandable and I want you all to know there is help available through the Employee Assistance programme and the range of services our own Occupational Health department provides.

There is support and there are people who will do all they can to help you. You are our greatest asset and we are here to help.

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