New NHS 111 number launched in North Derbyshire

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NHS 111 - a new telephone service to make it easier to access local health services urgently - is being launched today by NHS Derbyshire County in the Chesterfield, Bolsover, Bakewell and Matlock areas.

NHS 111 will replace the existing NHS Direct number and sit alongside the established 999 emergency ambulance number. 111 is the telephone number to use when it’s less urgent than 999.

When patients call 111 they will be assessed, given advice and directed straightaway to the local service that can help them best – that could be an out-of-hours doctor, walk-in centre, community nurse, emergency dentist or late opening chemist.

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls from landlines and mobile phones are free.

Jackie Pendleton of the North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are delighted to be piloting the 111 number for patients in North Derbyshire. It is essential that we improve access to, and understanding about, urgent care services. So, putting in place one, easily memorable 111 number for all urgent enquiries to run alongside the emergency 999 number will help simplify NHS services for patients.

“The aim is to deal with a patient in a single call with no call backs. Another requirement of a 111 service is that emergency calls will be transferred to the ambulance service with no delay to the caller. Access to GP surgeries will remain unchanged via their surgery number.”

The NHS 111 service call handling is being provided by Derbyshire Heath United, who already provide out-of-hours services for the county. Following the North Derbyshire launch there will be a second phase covering the High Peak and Derby City early in the new year, with the whole of Derbyshire covered by NHS 111 by late summer 2012.

For patients who need to contact the NHS for urgent care there are only three numbers to know: 999 for life-threatening emergencies; their GP surgery; or 111.