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Scotland’s NHS 24 service moves to free 111 number

From today, patients seeking advice from nurses and other staff at Scotland’s out-of-hours telephone service will dial 111 – the same as in England.

In addition, callers will no longer be charged when calling NHS 24 from a landline or mobile. It previously cost the price of a local phone call from a BT landline, with calls from other landline service providers and mobile providers often costing more.

The new number brings the Scottish service into sync with the NHS 111 number in England, and replaces the original NHS 24 number 08454 242424.

Scottish health secretary Alex Neil said: “I strongly believe our NHS should be free at the point of care for all, and this new number will help to protect these founding principles of the NHS.

Alex Neil

Alex Neil MSP

“NHS 24 already provides a valuable service to patients across Scotland when their GP surgery is closed, and there will be absolutely no change to the high quality service provided through this new number,” he said.

“By introducing the 111 number we are removing any barrier for the public to access the health advice out of hours.”

Referring to the break-up of NHS Direct in England, Mr Neil added: “In Scotland, the 111 number will be run by NHS 24 as a public service, in public hands.”

NHS 24 chief executive John Turner said: “By dialling 111, patients throughout Scotland will receive the same high quality, trusted service that NHS 24 has delivered for more than 10 years.

“The move to a free phone number represents the next stage in the development of the country’s provider of telehealth and telecare services,” he said.

Readers' comments (5)

  • michael stone

    'Scottish health secretary Alex Neil said: “I strongly believe our NHS should be free at the point of care for all, and this new number will help to protect these founding principles of the NHS.'

    So do I - so 'good' is my comment about this !

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  • michael stone | 29-Apr-2014 10:35 am

    yes, but you need to pay more tax to keep up realistically with the increasing costs of healthcare and to ensure there is good quality care for all that need it and stamp out mediocre care or negligence for some. most brits seem to thick to see this! never take the NHS and its services and staff for granted!

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 29-Apr-2014 11:56 am

    You can raise tax 'progressively' - but charging for calling 111 clearly impinges more on the poor than on the weathier.

    I do think that too many people these days probably 'turn up at the NHS's door' when in days gone by, they would have 'ignored it for a few days' (by when it often would have 'gone away on its own'). A GP writing in the press, was complaining about this difference in attitude re [especially] the generation that lived through WW2 and modern 20 somethings.

    However, I do consider that the modern 'less deferential attitude' to doctors is a step forward. Some doctors, don't agree.

    How much the NHS needs to spend, and exactly what services it should provide, is very much up for debate at present: but the two camps are 'everyone/society should be paying for the NHS through almost exclusively General Taxation' (my position) or something that looks like a move towards 'privatised medicine' (which some people want, but I don't like as the way forward).

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  • As a current patient (and former nurse) in Scotland, I've learnt about this number change in the Nursing Times - well advertised to the public then! When the Police 101 number came in you couldn't move for posters/news articles about it.

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  • michael stone | 29-Apr-2014 3:07 pm

    if you need to be deferential to anybody, which you should not be as anybody could walk all over you, it must be to the patients not the staff! However, kindly note, the relationship between staff and patients is intended to be a therapeutic equal partnership which is a complex one requiring considerable training, experience and skill, not to be treated flippantly and please don't you forget it!

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