The NHS is launching its annual NHS 111 Online campaign today, encouraging people to get the help they need from the convenience of their own homes ahead of winter.
From Thursday 24 November, a new national campaign will remind the public they can use the NHS 111 online service for urgent help on a wide range of health problems.
The service is best equipped to direct people to the most appropriate local treatment option such as GPs, pharmacy consultations, a call-back from a nurse, or urgent walk-in treatment centres.
People should still call 999 and go to A&E in an emergency – when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
It is estimated up to two-fifths of A&E attendances are avoidable or could be better treated elsewhere, with the NHS campaign highlighting different care options – not only are they more convenient for patients but can also help relieve pressure on already busy emergency departments.
The national campaign, which is part of the health service’s wider “Help us help you” campaign, will start rolling out across social media this week and will direct the public to 111.nhs.uk – the service will ask people to enter their postcode, age, sex, and main symptom – from there, they will be asked a series of questions about their health concern.
The latest published data showed it was the busiest ever October for A&E attendances and most serious ambulance callouts – with more than 2.17 million patients attending emergency departments in England, while ambulance services responded to 83,986 life-saving calls.
Extensive work is already underway to boost capacity ahead of winter including expanding rapid response teams to help people who have fallen at home and increasing the number of call handlers working in NHS 111 and 999.
New 24/7 system control centres are also being created in every local area to manage demand and capacity across the entire country by live tracking beds and attendances.
Using NHS 111 online services – which are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week – where possible, will also enable the 111 phone service to triage more people with urgent issues.
Through 111.nhs.uk people can:
- find out how to get the right healthcare in their area, including whether they need to see a GP or seek urgent care
- get advice on self-care
- get a call back from a nurse, doctor or other trained health professional if they need it.
People should call 111 to speak to someone if they need to:
- Discuss complex medical problems
- Get medical advice for a child under five.