Pilot Scheme for non emergency medical care
Another new phone service within the NHS is being piloted in the North East for those needing non-emergency medical care.
A pilot of the free phone 111 number will run in NHS County Durham and Darlington Primary Care Trusts, to act as an alternative to 999, followed by Nottingham, Lincolnshire and Luton.
Health advice and also information about local services such as out-of-hours GP's, walk-in centres, emergency dentists and 24-hour pharmacies will be available.
The government service will not initially replace NHS Direct, but may do so in the longer term if successful. It would then be available Nationwide.
It is hoped it will take the pressure off 999 calls, amid estimates suggesting that up to half of these calls do not need an emergency response.
But anyone calling the number with an emergency will have an ambulance despatched without the need for the call to be transferred.