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19 February 2013, 13:17 | Updated: 19 February 2013, 13:32
The new service, NHS 111, is part of a national programme to make healthcare more accessible by introducing a single telephone number for every kind of non-emergency health care.
NHS 111 will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls from landlines and mobiles will be free.
Dr Billy McKee, a local GP and Suffolk's NHS111 lead said: “Patients can call the NHS 111 service for a number of non-emergency reasons. If it’s a non-emergency question about medication or a medical concern about yourself or someone else; maybe you want to find your nearest GP, dentist or optician, perhaps you have a health question that can’t wait until your GP surgery is open or you think you need to access the out-of-hours service.
“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.”
For less urgent matters patients should still contact their GP surgery direct. Patients who are under the care of community health services or mental health services should continue to use the number they have been given for their specific treatment.
The NHS 111 service takes over from the out of hours number and the NHS Direct telephone service. The service does not replace the emergency 999 number which must still be used in life-threatening situations.
The 111 service has already gone live across Great Yarmouth and Waveney area and Norfolk. More information is available online on the NHS Choices website atwww.nhs.uk/111