Winter pressures and new 111 booking system


Winter pressures on health services and invitation to session on 15 December on the new 111 first booking system for urgent and emergency care.


Patients are being asked to help protect essential hospital services by using the NHS111 appointment system as an alternative to going to the emergency department at Watford General which is currently experiencing major seasonal pressures.


The new NHS111 appointment system for urgent and emergency care has been introduced across the country from 1 December to keep urgent NHS services safe and ensure they are available for everyone who needs them.

In Hertfordshire and west Essex this is a result of successful partnership working between our hospitals, local NHS 111 provider (Herts Urgent Care) and NHS England.

Unless you are very seriously ill or injured and need 999 emergency services, you should now go online to or ring 111 for advice before leaving home. Using the 111 service instead of going to A&E is the best way of ensuring you receive help in a timely manner.


Anyone arriving at an emergency department or urgent treatment centre without an appointment will be assessed by a senior nurse to see if they need immediate emergency treatment; if not they will be asked to contact NHS 111 to be triaged. NHS 111 online and phone service can already make booked appointments with GP surgeries and pharmacies, or divert a call to the ambulance service if necessary. Callers can also get directly through to a specialist mental health team by selecting option 2. The addition is that from 1 December, NHS 111 will be able to make someone a booked appointment at an A&E too.


Dr Vishen Ramkisson, the GP leading on the introduction of this new approach to urgent care for Hertfordshire and west Essex said: “It’s vitally important that everybody who needs urgent care is seen and treated safely in the right place, first time. Waiting for hours in an emergency department to be seen for a minor injury or illness is not in anyone’s interests. By picking up the phone or going online before people make the decision to travel, they can be assured that the right medical professional is expecting to see them.”


An appointment system will help to ensure that everyone who needs urgent care help can be seen safely and comfortably. This new way of working will help our residents to get the help they need without spending time in a waiting room where the likelihood of contracting COVID-19, flu or other viruses is increased.


The advice remains that people should continue to ring 999 if they, or someone they are with, are very seriously ill or injured. No-one who needs emergency care will be turned away.


Invitation to find out more about the NHS 111 first booking system for urgent and emergency care

You are invited to a virtual session on Tuesday 15 December 1- 2pm to find out more about the new NHS 111 First initiative. To register for this session please email – the link will be sent to those registered prior to the meeting.


If you are unable to attend this session it will be recorded and the video, with any presentation slides, will be circulated after the meeting



Heather Aylward (I don’t normally work Monday or Thursday)

Public Engagement Manager

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