Following the changes to REI protocols (see previous LOC updates) more patients are being signposted to NHS111 from primary care and likewise we are also seeing an increase in MECS activity where patients are signposted into the MEC service from NHS111.
We have received concerns that patients, having directly contacted NHS111, are being sent into the MEC service and told they must be seen within a certain time frame.
We have had previous discussions with NHS111 explaining this is not an option for practices, and all patients need to be triaged first by MECS staff before we allocate an appropriate time frame for an appointment.
NHS111 have clarified that patients are never advised of a time frame for an appointment- instead they are given a “disposition time frame”- this is the timeframe in which they need to contact the practice for advice and possible triage and not a timeframe in which to be seen.
NHS111 have shared the instructions that display on a call handlers screen in regard to MECS- I have copied it below so if any practices do get concerns from patients they can be confident in explaining to patients the advice that NHS111 gave them
When signposting patients to this service, please advise that:
- Patients MUST call this, or any MECS optician service before setting off.
- patients will receive a full triage by the optician over the phone and issued with appropriate treatment advice. This MAY NOT be an immediate appointment.
- patients may need to have their eyes dilated at any appointment and this will mean that they will not be able to drive themselves home.
Please give the patient the telephone number listed, select this service and give the appropriate advice as above.
– Patients under 5 years are excluded.