A NEW ‘Phone First’ service has been launched at Antrim Area Hospital’s Emergency Department in order to keep staff and patients safe as the COVID 19 crisis continues to bite.
Cathy McCoy, Assistant Clinical Service Manager for Emergency Care in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust undertook an in-depth interview with the Antrim Guardian to tell local residents how the scheme will work and why they should use it first if their condition is not immediately life-threatening.
It is also hoped that the new initiative will ease pressures on healthcare staff already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic - and not just in hospitals.
The ‘Phone First’ service, which has been operating for the past two weeks on a trial basis for the Causeway Hospital Emergency Department, rolls out today (Tuesday) and aims to ensure that patients can get direct access to the right care, avoiding busy waiting rooms and staying safe.
The service is designed for patients, including children, who are feeling unwell and considering travelling to an Emergency Department or Minor Injuries Unit with an injury or illness which requires urgent treatment but is not immediately life threatening.
However people are being assured that the Emergency Department will always be a safe place for patients, and if they attend an ED without ringing first, they will not be turned away.
If their condition is not life threatening they may have to wait longer or be signposted to another service.
The Northern Trust ‘Phone First’ will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
**For a special feature and in-depth interview on the new service, turn to Page 4**