A pigeon with a broken wing, a caller unable to sleep and onion juice in the eyes were topics of some of the calls taken by the Wales Ambulance Service at the end of 2020. And the Keep Wales Safe campaign is urging people in Wales to use the right channels if they have health concerns, to support NHS Wales and to ‘Help Us, Help You’ during this busy time.
NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker, which is hosted by the Welsh Ambulance Service, is one of the key services patients can tap into to check for a variety of conditions and to get advice on the best way to treat them.
The way people are accessing NHS services has changed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with more people now tapping into virtual GP appointments and consultations, as well as turning to handy guidance which is available 24/7 via the NHS 111 Wales online service. But there is still work to do to guide people to their first port of call – their GP or NHS 111 Wales. A recent YouGov survey showed that 32 percent of Wales residents hadn’t heard of the NHS 111 Wales online symptom checker and 76 percent had not used it during the past 12 months.
Stephen Clinton, Assistant Director of Operations from the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “The Welsh Ambulance Service is always here to help people in an emergency, but we are asking everyone to help us by reconsidering the way they access NHS services. The methods available have changed and it is worth getting to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can be seen and treated quicker, with NHS 111 Wales and your GP being your first ports of call.”
NHS 111 Wales online can help patients who have an urgent medical problem and are not sure what to do. A patient will answer questions about their symptoms on the website and, depending on the situation, they will:
- Get self-care advice
- Be told how to get any medicine needed
- Find out what local service can help
- Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP
- Get a face-to-face appointment if needed during out of hours periods, and after a call to 111
For those who aren’t confident about going online to seek advice, there is the NHS 111 Wales phone service. This is also a free service where patients can contact the NHS by dialling 111 to get advice on the best way to manage their issue or to get further help. The bilingual telephone service is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Be aware that this service is not yet available across all health boards, notably Besti Cadwaladr and Cardiff and Vale, except for Covid-19 enquiries.