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A million Londoners to test new NHS 111 app

6th January 2017

Over a million residents in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington will get free access to an NHS 111 app to check symptoms and get accurate, safe, medical advice, 24/7 in just a few taps.

The way Londoners access urgent and emergency health services is changing, and their NHS is evolving too. People in five North London boroughs will be able to download a new and free health app, NHS 111 powered by babylon which is a time defined test to help inform the development and delivery of an online service. This will complement the existing NHS 111 telephone service and will mean immediate, accurate and personalised advice and medical information will be available from their smartphones, wherever they are, whatever the time of day, helping people to take control of their own health.

The app will provide an alternative mechanism of accessing integrated Urgent Care and connecting patients to clinicians, and will aim to reduce pressure on the NHS during the busy winter period and beyond. In less than two minutes, the app can help people to decide whether their symptoms need to be seen by a GP or at a hospital, or whether a visit to the local pharmacy or staying at home is the best option. It will tell people where to go and who to see, as close to their home as possible, so they can make the right choices.

The results will be made available to the NHS so that any action needed, for example booking an appointment with an out-of-hours GP, can be taken.

The CCGs of North Central London have commissioned an Integrated Urgent Care Service provided by London Central and West Unscheduled Care Collaborative (LCW) which includes an expanded workforce including GPs, nurses, paramedics and pharmacists. The telephone service run by London Central and West Unscheduled Care Collaborative (LCW) currently handles over 300,000 patient contacts per year. Adding an app-based service will give people increased choice and flexibility in accessing NHS 111 services.

The new 111 online service begins in January 2017 and will last for 6 months. In 2017, the NHS will test several online tools of which one is babylon. These local comparators will help test different approaches and will not in any way replace call handlers or clinicians. This initiative is about improving access to similar services provided by NHS 111 but is online for patient convenience and to help NHS 111 cope with its popularity – the NHS 111 service is now taking around 15 million calls a year.

Adam Duncan, LCW Chief Operating Officer, said: “LCW is happy to be working with NHS England and the other providers involved to ensure the piloting of the NHS 111 app is evaluated robustly. We aim to provide an alternative to using the NHS 111 telephone number for service users that would find it most convenient to their lifestyle. The use of the app could also reduce the demand on NHS 111 during the most busy periods, whilst retaining the high quality and accessible service.”

Dr Sam Shah, Clinical Lead, Healthy London Partnership and North Central London CCGs, said: “The NHS in north central London is pleased to be working with LCW and babylon to test this app which complements the 111 phone service. We have taken on board feedback from the public and want to offer a digital alternative to complement the telephone. The clinicians and call handlers at LCW provide an excellent service and continue to do an important job helping patients to get the right care, at the right place and at the right time, and in protecting both A&E and ambulance services from unnecessary attendances and call outs. We hope that the app will provide even greater access for the public and connect patients to clinicians.”

Dr Ali Parsa, CEO & Founder, babylon: “It’s inspiring to work with the innovative teams that serve our national health service to put accessible healthcare into the hands of everyone. We should all be proud that our NHS is now becoming a pioneer in adopting cutting edge technology to deliver a timely and accurate digital triage service – one that provides patient choice, excellent user experience and helps ease pressure on overstretched services.

More information

For more information about the NHS 111 app please follow this link. For other questions and interview requests contact Maria Vidal-Read, Healthy London Partnership, at maria.vidal-read@nhs.net or call 07811 462 287.

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