First Aid – When should I call 111?

When we dial 111 on our phone, we are calling an NHS non-emergency number (when it is less urgent than 999). Apparently, It is fast to get a response, easy to achieve and best of all it’s free!

NHS 111 has operators who are highly trained advisers, supported by healthcare professionals (e.g. nurses and paramedics), who have a seasoned knowledge of how to treat conditions and emergencies. When you speak to the operator, they will ask you a series of questions to assess your (or someone’s) symptoms and immediately direct you to the best medical care.

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones. The service began in February 2014

Sign language support

NHS 111 offers a video relay service that allows you to make a video call to a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter. The BSL interpreter will call an NHS 111 adviser on your behalf and you are then able to have a real-time conversation with the NHS 111 adviser, via the interpreter.

You will require a webcam, a computer and a good broadband connection to make use of this service.

When to use NHS 111

You should use the NHS 111 service if you urgently need medical help or advice, but it’s not a life-threatening situation.

Call 111 if:

You need medical help fast, but it is not a 999 emergency
You think you need to go to A&Eor need another NHS urgent care service
You don’t know who to call or you don’t have a GP
You need health information or reassurance about what to do next
For less urgent health needs, contact your GP or local pharmacist in the usual way.

If a health professional has given you a specific phone number to call when you are concerned about your condition, continue to use that number.

For immediate, life-threatening emergencies, continue to call 999

How does NHS 111 work?

The professionals will ask you some questions to assess your symptoms, then they will give you the healthcare advice you need or direct you to the local service that can help you best. For example this could be A&E, an out-of-hours doctor, an urgent care centre or a walk-in centre, a community nurse, an emergency dentist, a late-opening chemist or even the Samaritans.

Wherever possible, the NHS 111 team will book you an appointment or transfer you directly to the people you need to speak to.

If NHS 111 advisers think you need an ambulance, they will immediately arrange for one to be sent to you.

Below are some examples of people ring NHS 111 for.

‘My little boy ate poo, what shall I do?’

‘My husband tripped over the couch and his head is bleeding’

‘I have a pain in my belly, can you please advise me what to do?’