New 111 non-emergency medical number launches in Barking and Dagenham

NHS launches new 111 number for use in non-ermergencies, 99 should still be used in an emergency

NHS launches new 111 number for use in non-ermergencies, 99 should still be used in an emergency - Credit: Archant

Rather than phoning 999, those in need of urgent but not life-threatening medical care are being encouraged to call 111.

The new NHS number – which launches today in Barking and Dagenham — is free to call from landlines and mobile phones and will operate around the clock, 365 days a year.

The traditional 999 emergency number is still to be used for the most serious and life threatening emergencies, say NHS chiefs, who add less urgent healthcare concerns should be directed to local GPs or pharmacists in the usual way.

A link to the emergency services means callers who find themselves in need of an ambulance will receive the proper response even if they dial the new number, however.

Dr Phil Koczan, clinical governance lead for NHS Outer North East London (ONEL) said: “By putting this easy to remember number in place we are simplifying NHS services for patients.”

“It is vital that we improve access to, and understanding about, urgent care services, which includes out-of-hours care. At the moment, too many people are confused about who to contact and how to do so.

“If you’ve injured yourself playing football after work or you are worried about your child’s temperature, NHS 111 can help you get the care you need.”

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A team of fully trained advisers, supported by clinicians, will be on-hand to assess patients’ symptoms and offer healthcare advice while directing them to the right local service as quickly as possible, NHS chiefs added.

Residents in Barking and Dagenham contacting NHS Direct or the GP out-of-hours service will now be automatically routed to the 111 service.

“Launching 111 is another step in our plans to help patients access the right care more quickly,” said Dr Richard Burack of the Clinical Commissioning Group.

“There are now only three numbers you need to remember to get help if you are ill – your local GP, 111, or 999.”