Non-emergency number clocks up 10,000 calls

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OVER 10,000 calls have been made to North Derbyshire’s new non-emergency NHS 111 number since it went live two months ago.

More than 7,956 people living in the Bakewell, Matlock and other areas dialled the helpline direct between October 25 2011 and January 2 2012, with another 2,425 automatically diverted to the service through their GP.

NHS 111 is a new health telephone number being piloted by NHS Derbyshire County and North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group. The number – which will replace NHS Direct at the end of March 2013 – is the number people needing health and medical care should use when it’s less urgent than 999.

Using state-of-the-art technology, trained operators employed by Derbyshire Health United, who manage the service, undertake a full assessment, offer advice and direct callers to the local service that can help them best or give them advice to enable them to manage the issue themselves. These include their own general practice, out-of-hours doctors, walk-in centres and minor injury units, community nurses, emergency and usual day time dentists or chemists.

Jackie Pendleton, chief operating officer for North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s still early days for the 111 pilot, but we’re delighted with the way things are going so far.

“People really do appreciate that the 111 service is provided locally, and we’ve had numerous compliments praising the service, the friendly staff, and its efficiency. Patients also say it’s great being able to get non-urgent medical care and advice straight away without the hassle of making numerous phone calls – all by dialling one easy-to-remember number.”

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls from landlines and mobile phones are free.

If any patient is found to need an ambulance, staff operating the new 111 service can dial an ambulance for them immediately via their computer system.

A full evaluation of the pilot, and the impact it is having helping patients to use emergency services wisely, is to take place later this year.

The new service is due to be launched in the High Peak and Derby City in March this year, with the whole of Derbyshire covered by NHS 111 by late summer 2012.