111 goes live in Hampshire, Portsmouth & Southampton
Residents in Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth can now call NHS 111 if they need health advice or information or if they have a non life-threatening health issue and are not sure where to go for treatment. The service will make it easier for people to access local urgent healthcare while taking pressure off the 999 service and local A&E departments.
The easy-to-remember three digit number, which is free to call, replaces NHS Direct and should be called if medical help is needed fast but it's not a 999 emergency. A team of advisers supported by trained paramedics and nurses will then assess the caller's symptoms, provide relevant advice and direct them to the right local service at that time, helping eliminate the need to make lots of telephone calls.
The introduction of the NHS 111 service is part of wider revisions to the urgent care system to ensure people receive the right care, from the right person, at the right time.
The service, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, is being rolled out across England and is expected to be in operation across the country by October 2013.
This service is already live in some sites in England - the closest to us being in Oxfordshire and on the Isle of Wight - and will be available in adjoining counties (Surrey, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Sussex and Dorset) by the summer.
The service has been introduced here following intensive work with the Department of Health. Director of Nursing for the Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth PCT Cluster, Sarah Elliott, commented: "111 is the number to call for all health issues that don't require an ambulance. For many people the right place to go can be confusing, especially if you're experiencing a health concern and your GP surgery is closed. Calling 111 will identify the right place to go, using a system designed by NHS doctors.
"This simple, free to call, easy-to-remember number will make it easier for people in Hampshire to access the urgent care they require, no matter what time it is or where they are."
The 111 service for the whole of Hampshire is being operated by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) under a five-year service delivery agreement. SCAS has trained call handlers taking 111 calls, supported by qualified clinical advisors, who will take patients through a series of questions using a well tested system of medical questioning - NHS Pathways.
Mark Rowell, Head of 111 South for SCAS, commented: "Having a highly trained 111 team, I would urge anyone with an urgent, but not life-threatening, illness or health concern to contact us for advice. The service is open 24 hours a day and will help people find the right place to go for treatment. This includes referring patients to out-of-hours doctors, advising them to make an appointment with their own doctor or advising them to attend at a minor injuries unit for example.
"So, if you're worried about your child's temperature, or need urgent health advice, then call 111 to speak to the team who will assess and help you straight away."