A NEW non-emergency medical phone number will launch in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly next year – eight months after it was "delayed indefinitely".
From February 4 the NHS 111 service will be provided by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), which already provides the service in Devon, Dorset and Somerset.
NHS 111 will aid easier access to urgent healthcare while taking pressure off the 999 service and the emergency department at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.
In June the roll-out had to be delayed due to controversy over the scheme elsewhere in the UK.
However, Andy Haywood, NHS Kernow's clinical lead for NHS 111, said the free number will "make it easier for people to access round-the-clock urgent care, no matter where they are".
The number will replace NHS Direct's 0845 4647 service and should be called if medical help is needed fast but was not an emergency in need of 999.
Andy Smith, medical director, said: "South Western Ambulance Service has nearly nine months of running the NHS 111 service in Dorset and we will be bringing that experience and expertise to the service in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, along with all the local knowledge that comes from managing our successful ambulance service in the region."
Calls to NHS 111 are confidential and free from landlines and mobiles but pay-as-you-go mobiles must have 1p credit to access the service, which is available around the clock in about 170 languages.
Call 111 if:
it's not a life-threatening emergency;
you don't know who to call for medical help; or
you don't think it can wait for an appointment with your GP; or
you don't have a GP.