Urgent medical and health advice is now available across Wales 24 hours a day, seven days a week following the successful rollout of the 111 helpline.
The service, which is run by the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, and can be accessed online at 111.wales.nhs.uk or by telephone by calling 111, will give people up-to-date health advice and guidance on which NHS service is right for them.
The NHS 111 Wales website includes more than 65 symptom checkers and information about local services, and should be everyone’s first port of call before making a phone call.
But if your health concern is urgent, call handlers on the 111 helpline can also help you get the right treatment at the right time and in the right place.
The service has now been rolled out to all seven health board areas in Wales including Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which came online last month.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “Medical advice and information about accessing the right service at the right time is available for free across Wales.
“This fantastic service, supported by £15m of Welsh Government funding, will help people receive the most appropriate care for their health needs and will also help to ease pressure on our vital 999 service
“Together with the NHS 111 Wales website, this easy to remember free phone service will make a real difference to our healthcare service in Wales.”
Richard Bowen, National Programme Director for 111 said: “Often within the NHS, access to urgent care services is really quite confusing.
“You don’t know what services are open when and, depending on your condition, you don’t know which healthcare professional would be the best person for you.
“The NHS 111 Wales website and free-to-call 111 number simplifies all of that, so from now on you only have to dial 111 and you will be signposted to one of a range of different options.
“We’re thrilled that this service is now available to everyone in Wales and I’d like to personally thank everyone involved. This is a significant milestone for NHS Wales and we intend to continue improving the service going forward.”
Dr Stephen Bassett, National Clinical Advisor for 111, added: “Until now, people have had to use different numbers to contact different services, but 111 brings them together under one number.
“People calling 111 will firstly speak to a specially-trained call handler who will ask a series of questions.
“This will allow the service’s experienced healthcare professionals – nurses and, during evenings, weekends and bank holidays, GPs and pharmacists – to prioritise calls so the most seriously ill are treated first.
“Depending on the urgency of their condition, some people will get a call back from a nurse, doctor or pharmacist if they call out-of-hours.
“If they need to see a GP out-of-hours, 111 colleagues can arrange this.”
Stephen Clinton, Assistant Director of Operations for the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, said: “There’s been a lot of great work over the past six years growing NHS 111 Wales and we’re very proud of what has been achieved.
“Our teams across Wales now help close to a million people each year with their urgent care needs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
(Lead image: Wales Ambulance Service Trust)
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