A new three digit number will be available in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly next year for anyone who needs non-emergency medical help.
From 4 February 2014, 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 is intended to make it easier for people to access local urgent healthcare while taking pressure off the 999 service and the emergency department at Treliske, leaving staff to focus on life-threatening emergency cases.
You can call 111 if:
a)it's not a life-threatening emergency;
b)you don't know who to call for medical help; or
c) you don't think it can wait for an appointment with your GP; or
d) if you don't have a GP.
Calls to NHS 111 are confidential and free from landlines and mobiles. (Pay-as-you-go mobiles must have 1p credit to access the service.) The service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in around 170 different languages.
The easy to remember number will replace NHS Direct’s 0845 4647 service and should be called if medical help is needed fast but it's not a 999 emergency. A team of highly-trained advisers, supported by experienced clinical supervisors, will then assess the caller's symptoms, provide relevant advice and direct them to the right local service at that time. If they think an ambulance is needed, one will be sent immediately.
Dr Andy Haywood, NHS Kernow’s clinical lead for NHS 111, said: “This simple, free to call, easy to remember number will make it easier for people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to access round-the-clock urgent care, no matter where they are.
"If you are worried about your child who is ill, have a new rash or are concerned about, or need health advice, call 111 to speak to the team who will assess and help you straight away."