‘Phone First’ Frequently Asked Questions
Who is ‘Phone First’ for?
‘Phone First’ is for patients (including children):
- who are unwell and considering travelling to Craigavon Area Hospital or Daisy Hill Hospital Emergency Departments (ED); or South Tyrone Hospital Minor Injuries Unit
- with an injury or illness which requires urgent treatment but is not immediately life threatening.
What is the ‘Phone First’ number?
If you have an urgent problem (excluding serious illness or injury) and are considering travelling the ED or Minor Injuries Unit please ‘Phone First’ between 9am and 6pm Monday to Friday on:
0300 123 3 111
(Text Relay: 18001 0300 123 3 111)
What is the service?
When you call the ‘Phone First’ service, you will speak to a call handler who will take your details. An experienced health care professional will call you back to clinically assess your condition or that of the person you are phoning on behalf of.
They will then make arrangements for the most appropriate urgent care service for your needs. This may mean directing you to ED for assessment or redirecting you to your local GP, offering an appointment at a Covid Centre, Urgent Care Centre, Urgent Out of Hours service or Minor Injury Unit.
Why is the service needed?
With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in our community, it is even more important than ever that patients who need emergency treatment aren’t asked to wait in crowded waiting rooms where they may be exposed to COVID-19.
When you have an urgent healthcare need, it is still important that you get advice and treatment, but this doesn’t always need to be in the ED. This new service will ensure that you get the right treatment, in the right place and at the right time, whilst reducing the risks to yourself and others.
When do you phone 999?
Call 999 in a medical emergency or if you can, bring the person straight to the Emergency Department without delay. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
Life-threatening emergencies include:
- loss of consciousness
- an acute confused state
- fits that are not stopping
- chest pain
- breathing difficulties
- severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- severe allergic reactions
- severe burns or scalds
Call 999 immediately if you or someone else is having a heart attack or stroke. Every second counts with these conditions.
Also call 999 if you think someone has had a major trauma, such as after a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from height, or a serious head injury.
When do you ‘Phone First’?
If you are feeling unwell and believe it is not life threatening and plan on travelling to Craigavon Hospital ED Daisy Hill ED or South Tyrone Injuries Unit then ‘Phone First’ on
0300 123 3 111 and you will be clinically assessed and directed to the right service.
For all emergences that are life threatening always ring 999
What happens if I ring 999?
There will be no change to the response that is given by dialling 999 if your condition is life threatening.
Why is the Southern Trust being used as a pilot?
Along with Causeway Hospital the Northern Trust, the Southern Trust was tasked by the Department of Health to explore the use of ‘Phone First’.
If this pilot is successful, other EDs across the province will introduce the ‘Phone First’ service.
Why is there a need to phone first?
By phoning first, you will get directed to the right care service. This will help manage attendance at Emergency Departments and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding busy waiting areas.
What if I can’t get through on the phone or have been ringing and holding for a long time, how long will it take for my call to be answered?
The aim of the Phone First service is to answer 95% of calls within the first minute.
Why is the service not operating 24/7?
Based on our ability to staff the service, the new telephone number will initially operate from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday for patients who are considering travelling to the ED or Minor Injuries Unit with an urgent but not life threatening condition.
If the pilot is successful, it is hoped that we will be able to extend these hours in the future.
Are all calls to the ‘Phone First’ number free of charge?
No, the new Phone First number for the Southern area is 0300 123 3 111.
This is a Low Call number.
Calls made to a low call 0300 number cost the same as those made to a local area number and are included in many Landline or Mobile call plans such as Free Minutes and Friends and Family bundles.
0300 numbers within the UK are reserved exclusively for Not-For-Profit organisations, the Public sector and Charities and no revenue is paid to the owner of the number.
I’m deaf so how do I make contact?
There is a text relay number for those with a hearing impairment.
The text relay number is: 18001 0300 123 3 111
You can also access the service by downloading the Interpreter Now app onto your mobile phone. Once registered you can access a remote interpreter at any time, free of charge. Use this service to contact the ‘Phone First’ number 0300 123 3 111.
The Interpreter Now app is available in the app store.