A NEW, non-emergency number for NHS patients with urgent but not life-threatening symptoms will go live in Cornwall later this morning.
The NHS 111 number, which replaces NHS Direct, is due to go live in Cornwall at 11am and will be run by the South Western Ambulance Service, which also operates 111 in Devon, Dorset and Somerset.
South Western Ambulance, which will be answering calls from its headquarters in Exeter, Devon, said it should ease pressure on 999 ambulances, freeing them up for more serious patients.
NHS Direct was initially earmarked to run the helpline but pulled out last year, saying it was financially unsustainable.
NHS 111 was expected to start in the county and the Isles of Scilly last May, but it was delayed after concerns were raised about the quality of the service and fears it could result in more emergency call-outs because of incorrect referrals.
South Western Ambulance said the new helpline should ease pressure on blue-light ambulances because it was running both the 999 and 111 lines.