Suffolk: Healthcare phone line is launched for non-emergency advice

Dr Billy McKee, a local GP and Suffolk's NHS 111 lead – 111 is a new NHS number for incidents that a

Dr Billy McKee, a local GP and Suffolk's NHS 111 lead 111 is a new NHS number for incidents that are not as serious as an emergency - Credit: PAGEPIX LTD

A NEW non-emergency healthcare service is being officially launched across the county today.

The NHS service, which can be accessed by dialling 111 when it is launched from 8am today, is intended to allow the public to gain medical help fast when it is not a 999 emergency.

The service, which will be available 24 hours a day, all year round, is part of a national programme to make healthcare more accessible.

Dr Billy McKee, a local GP and Suffolk’s NHS 111 lead, said: “Rather than a national service, this will be very local and it will allow the patient to be told what action they should take and where they can go for their treatment.

“It all got very confusing for patients because a lot of the time they were unsure if they should go to hospital, to the out-of-hours service or if they should wait until the next day. This new service will help to guide them.

“NHS 111 is about making it easier to access local healthcare services. Simply by calling 111 patients will be directed to the most appropriate service that meets their needs.

“The big advantage of this service is that NHS 111 staff members are Suffolk-based and they have access to local health service information.”

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The Ipswich Star previously reported that there had been a surge in the number of ambulances arriving at Ipswich Hospital during the trial of the new non-emergency service.

The new service takes over from the out-of-hours number and the NHS Direct telephone service.

The emergency 999 number should still be used in life-threatening situations.