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10 October 2012, 12:51 | Updated: 10 October 2012, 13:02
There's a new number for people in Hertfordshire who need medical help but it's not a situation for 999.
NHS 111 has launched in the county. The service, which will eventually replace NHS Direct, is already up and running in Luton and will start in places like Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire early in 2013.
NHS 111 can give advice on where you need to go to get help or treatment. They can also dispatch an ambulance if it's considered necessary.
It's hoped the service will cut the number of people turning up at A&E departments, and ease waiting times for people who genuinely need the services of Accident and Emergency staff.
Unlike NHS Direct, dialling NHS 111 will put you through to calltakers in your local area, who will be able to refer you to help that's available locally.
Dr Vishen Ramkisson, NHS 111 Clinical Lead for East & North Hertfordshire, said, “The introduction of NHS 111 in Hertfordshire will provide benefits to the public and the NHS, by improving the public’s access to urgent healthcare services. With its simple, free to call, easy to remember number, that’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. NHS111 will improve patients’ access to urgent health services and direct NHS resources more effectively
“NHS 111 frees up GPs to deal more effectively with out of hours calls where their expertise can be used most effectively. NHS 111 also can help to take the pressure off the 999 emergency service and local A&E departments, which many people turn to if they don’t know where else to go for the urgent help they need.”