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Non-emergency ‘111’ service launched

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has launched a new three-digit number - 111 – which is aimed at patients who require non-emergency NHS healthcare. The new service was launched in part of the North East of England yesterday, and the move marks the first step towards a national roll out.

The 24-hour service is free to call and is staffed by a team of trained call advisers, who are supported by nurses. The number can be used by those who need help fast but whose life is not in danger, or those who do not know who to call. If, however, a situation is assessed as being an emergency, an ambulance will be despatched immediately.


Visiting the first operational 111 call centre in the North East to see how the service is working, Lansley said: “It is essential that we improve access to, and understanding about, urgent care services, which includes out-of-hours care.  At present, too many people are confused about who to contact and how to do so.


“By putting in place one, easily memorable 111 number for all urgent inquiries to run alongside the emergency 999 number we will simplify NHS services for patients. 111 will be free to call and available 24/7, putting patients in touch with the right NHS service, first time.


“Later this year we will launch the service in Nottingham City, Lincolnshire and Luton. Ahead of national roll-out, this will help us understand what model works best for patients and delivers value for money.”


[quote top=Yasmin Chaudhry, chief executive of NHS County Durham and Darlington, added] The NHS 111 service will make it easier for the public to access urgent healthcare and will drive improvements in the way in which the NHS delivers that care. We want to make sure the right care is delivered in the right way for patients as well as ensuring NHS resources are used in the best way.[/quote]