UK Government

Department of Health (National): 111 number improves urgent care for patients

Press release   •   Jun 17, 2011 13:26 BST

New service helping patients find the right alternatives to A&E

Early data on the NHS 111 service is published today as part of the Government’s commitment to make urgent care more accessible by introducing a single, easy-to-remember, number.

In April, there were 40,288 calls to the service across all four pilot sites which when scaled up represent 14.3m calls per year across England to the NHS 111 service. This will help to relieve the pressure on the 999 services so that they can focus on emergency cases.

NHS 111 can be called when you need medical help fast but the situation is not life threatening, or when you do not know who to call. It is particularly useful outside of GP surgery hours and for people who are away from home.

The preliminary data indicates that the NHS 111 service is a fast and easy way to get the right help - whatever your need, wherever you are, and whatever the time.

In County Durham and Darlington, the first pilot site to go live, comparisons between August - December 2010 with the same period in 2009 show that:

* The number of people going to A&E decreased by 4 per cent compared to a 2 per cent rise for England as a whole.

* GP out of hours consultations, urgent care centre and walk in centre attendances have decreased by 4 per cent. For England as a whole the combined attendance to urgent care centres, walk-in centres and minor injury units have increased by 20 per cent.

Health Minister, Lord Howe, said:

"I am encouraged by the initial results of the new NHS 111 service which shows it is already making it easier for people to access the right healthcare services quickly when they need them. At present, too many people are confused about who to contact and how to do so when needing urgent care.

"The memorable 111 number can also help us take the pressure off the 999 emergency service and local A&E departments, which many people turn to if they do not know where else to go for the urgent help they need. Results from these pilot sites will help ensure that the public get the right care, at the right time, and in the right setting in a modern NHS."

Supported by nurses, calls are answered by fully trained advisors who assess people and help ensure they receive care from the most appropriate NHS service. The NHS 111 service will in future replace NHS Direct’s current 0845 4647 telephone service from April 2013.

Notes to Editors

1. You can find the data at

2. The 111 service is free to call and is staffed by a team of fully trained call advisers, supported by nurses, who are on hand to assess callers' needs and ensure they receive the right service as quickly as possible. It guides patients to a locally available service or provides appropriate advice and information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

3. The new 111 service is currently only available to people in County Durham and Darlington, Lincolnshire, Luton and Nottingham City. Full data is currently not yet available in the other pilot sites of Nottingham City, Luton and Lincolnshire.

4. For more information please contact the Department of Health newsdesk on 0207 210 5221


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