Next week sees the launch of a new three digit number for anyone in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly who needs non-emergency medical help.
From Tuesday, February 4, 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.
It is claaimed that the NHS 111 service will make it easier for people to access local urgent healthcare while taking pressure off the 999 service and the emergency departments at Royal Cornwall Hospital and Derriford Hospital.
111 can be called if:
• it's not a life-threatening emergency
• you don't know who to call for medical help
• you don't think it can wait for an appointment with your GP
• 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 is replacing NHS Direct’s 0845 4647 service. A team of advisers, supported by experienced clinical supervisors, including, paramedics, midwives and emergency care practitioners will assess the caller's symptoms, provide 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."
Dr Andy Smith, medical director for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We already have the experience of running the NHS111 service in Devon, Dorset and Somerset and we will be bringing that experience and expertise to the Cornwall service.
“Patient care is at the forefront of everything we do as a Trust and the 111 service in Cornwall will enable us to continue providing the right care, in the right place and at the right time in that part of the country.”