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Integrating NHS 111 and the out-of-hours service

Devon’s NHS 111 helpline and out-of-hours GP service is being integrated from October 1 to provide a more streamlined service, with quicker access to medical help and advice for patients.

  • New features which will benefit patients include increased clinical support for the NHS 111 service so that patients will only be triaged once
  • Faster access to telephone consultations with a GP or nurse
  • Booked appointments for patients referred to a treatment centre
  • Increased capacity for home visits
There’ll be shorter waiting times for patients with the introduction of appointments at NHS out-of-hours treatment centres for the first time ever, and more home visits for patients who are unable to travel to see a GP at weekends and overnight.

The provider of the service, Devon Doctors, has an excellent reputation for delivering high quality, safe services and has delivered urgent out-of-hours medical care across the county for more than 20 years.

Patients can call NHS 111 at any time for urgent medical advice; and in the evenings, weekends and overnight, phoning NHS 111 is still the route to advice and GP access. The service assesses the best course of action for the patient, with the options ranging from a phone consultation with a doctor or nurse, a face-to-face consultation with a GP, a home visit or a trip to A&E.

To provide the out-of-hours service, GPs base themselves around the county in various centres for appointments or home visits, and that will continue although under the new model some of these locations will change.

Currently anyone referred to an out-of-hours appointment has to go and wait for the doctor on duty to see them in between telephone consultations and making home visits. Patients have never been able to just turn up at a treatment centre – it has always been specifically for patients sent there after speaking to the NHS 111 team.

From October 1, NHS 111 will have more clinical support to ensure that patients won’t  need to be re-triaged by the out of hours service, leaving the doctor free for more face-to-face consultations, at treatment centres or on home visits.

As part of planning the new service following NHS England guidance, Devon Doctors and the CCG looked at the number of treatment centres and how much they are used. It showed us that Devon currently has a higher number of treatment centres when compared to other CCGs, but the usage rates are low.

At the moment, Devon has 15 treatment centres. When the new service starts on 1 October 2016, this will be reduced to nine. The six places that will not have a treatment centre are:

  • Bideford
  • Dawlish
  • Exmouth
  • Holsworthy
  • Paignton
  • Tavistock
If someone from one of these towns or surrounding areas is offered an appointment at a treatment centre, they will travel to one in a town that is no more than 30 minutes travel time away from their home. The remaining centres are in:

  • Newton Abbot
  • Torquay
  • Totnes
  • Exeter
  • Honiton
  • Tiverton
  • Barnstaple
  • Okehampton
  • Plymouth
There will still be the same clinical support available to patients affected in all these areas but the doctors will be more mobile to meet demand.

People who are able to travel to a treatment centre will be offered a booked appointment at their nearest location. The service is designed to make sure that, as far as possible, no-one is more than 30 minutes away from a treatment centre.

For more information, including a list of frequently asked questions and answers, see here.​