People who need urgent medical attention in Trafford are being urged to call NHS 111 before attending hospital this autumn.

Anyone in need of urgent care at Trafford General’s Urgent Care Centre or Walk-in Centre will need to ring the contact number before they leave home, as of this week.

The move aims to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and seasonal flu this year and keep people safe.

People who call will be offered a timed appointment slot in the Urgent Care Centre or Walk-in Centre or will be directed to another appropriate service to meet their needs, which could be a GP, pharmacy or other service.

The temporary move is part of work to make Trafford General Hospital COVID-free so it can host a dedicated hub for elective (planned, non-emergency) surgery.

It is hoped the move will create ‘a more positive experience’ for patients who will be quickly directed to the most appropriate service, reducing the amount of time they need to wait for medical attention and being able to attend at a time that suits their needs.

Health bosses have emphasised that nobody will be left without care and if patients do not book an appointment via 111 in advance they will be triaged on arrival at the hospital and directed to the appropriate service – replicating the national approach.

Dr Mark Jarvis, Medical Director at NHS Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “COVID-19 has meant that a crowded urgent care department can no longer be the norm due to the risks this poses of spreading the virus.

“This approach will ensure the arrival of patients on site is staggered, enabling control of infection and creating a safer environment for everyone during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Residents who do not need to be in a waiting room should not be – to help those who do need to be seen as quickly and safely as possible.”

Those who need immediate help, but it’s not an emergency, should contact NHS 111. However, if the situation is life-threatening, people should dial 999.