With over 50,000 people calling NHS 111 a day, measures are being taken into place to ensure the waiting times are reduced.

The NHS’ key focuses are on urgent mental health support, virtual wards, and paediatric services.

By improving these areas, the NHS hopes to improve waiting times.

A large majority of this new plan relies on updating the NHS app and NHS 111 services.

Mental Health:

The expansion of the NHS’ mental health support is to help recover emergency care services.

There will be a mental health option when calling NHS 111 – which wasn’t included before.

As well as this, the NHS app will now feature NHS 111; making the service easier to access for its 30 million users.

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation’s mental health network, said:

Health leaders will welcome the expansion of NHS 111 as a vital front door for children and young people with mental health concerns to get the support they need.

Tom Madders, Director of Campaigns at YoungMinds expressed:

Swift access to mental health support in a crisis can save young lives, so we warmly welcome this boost to crisis services at a time when it’s never been more needed.


Virtual Wards:

Thousands of elderly and vulnerable patients will receive customised home care from the NHS.

This will be made possible with high-tech virtual wards, which will monitor patients remotely.

Before next winter, a further 7,000 beds will be prepared for patients – a 50% increase since last summer.

These wards will specifically treat frail elderly patients or acute respiratory infections.

The next target audience is children and young people, after the initial rollout.

Further expansion to all regions is planned for September.

The elderly are a top priority as England currently has an ageing population, with falls becoming increasingly common.

These virtual wards will ensure vulnerable patients are able to remain independent for longer.

NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, explains:

Today we are taking our plans and preparations even further – building on the extra beds, call handlers and 24/7 control centres – and focusing on new and existing technologies and innovations to transform the way people access our services…

Further paediatric support:

A paediatric hub will be established in local areas so that children suffering from acute respiratory infections can receive care outside of the hospital on the same day.

This is in hopes to ensure more patients can be seen in the wintertime.

For context, the average ambulance response time for emergencies exceeded 90 minutes – 5x longer than the target.

As well as this, over 1/3 of patients have waited more than 4 hours to be seen at A&E.

 The situation is made worse by the fact that 55,000 patients had to wait at least 12 hours in A&E.

This is why the government have appointed £14.1bn to the health and care services for the next two years.

What to expect for 2023

For 2023, we should expect to see the NHS investing a lot more time and effort into digital technology.

In 2022 we saw the creation of virtual wards, smart goggles, and health and wellbeing apps emerging to support patient care at home.

Virtual GP appointments will be encouraged by the NHS, as well as a focus on mental health apps.


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