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111 'non-emergency number' to go nationwide


A non-emergency telephone number for around-the-clock access to NHS services is to be rolled out nationally.

The 111 line, which has been trialled in a small number of areas, will dispense advice but also organise care as appropriate from GPs, community nurses or an ambulance service.

It is billed by the Tories as reducing confusion and effectively abolishing the concept of “out-of-hours” in the NHS.

The line, which will replace that provided by NHS Direct, is to be made available nationally by April 2013.

After pilots in County Durham, Nottingham, Lincolnshire and Luton, it will be extended to the Isle of Wight and Chesterfield before Christmas.

NHS Direct is expected to “retain a role” in the delivery of the 111 service, which will be staffed by call advisers supported by nurses.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “The new 111 service will mean patients can access the whole of the NHS through just one simple number.

“This marks another important step in modernising the NHS and giving patients greater control and choice over their healthcare.”

Dr Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “Not only will callers to the service be advised on what to do but they will be directed to the appropriate local service to address their need consistently.

“However, patients should be aware that this is not a replacement for the current system and that they can continue to call their GP practice as normal.”

Prime minister David Cameron said: “I believe people should get the care they need, when and where they need it.

“However, too many people are confused about what is available to them or how best to get it - especially at night or if they are away from home.

“That’s why we are introducing NHS 111. The new service will make sure callers can access the care and advice that is right for them, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

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Readers' comments (3)

  • This is madness. Alluding to a recent article on NHSD Nurse Advisors losing their jobs to be replaced by call advisors, will result in another 1.5 million attendances to A&E, 1.9 million GP appointments, and over 1,000 999 ambulance attendances per year. I read a very good NHSD presentation the other day that identifies these statistics.. All we need is to open the flood gates for people to leave home and attend another service that will end up sending them back home with nothing else but advice. The best option is to empower people to manage their illness at home..

    Anyway I'm off to A&E, I have a cough.

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  • what a disaster. another call centre and more failed one size fits all automated care.
    is it anonymous or do you have to give out your details to some operator with very rudimentary training and little basic common sense for further collection on a data base? When are we going to be treated with respect like individual human beings again?

    as Camron said:

    "“I believe people should get the care they need, when and where they need it."

    this is surely not the way to achieve it.

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  • Anonymous | 17-Jan-2012 10:49 pm

    Further to my comment above, I just hope I never have to use the services of the NHS ever again, at least until it shows signs of providing a decent service once again. A comment I would not have dreamed of making ten or more years ago when it was the very best and when we gave the very best to our patients!

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