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Non-emergency number to launch in England

3rd October 2011

The Department of Health has confirmed that a new non-emergency number for the health service is due to be launched in England by 2013.

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The new 111 number, which has been the subject of tests in four areas of the country, will be in place by April 2013.

The number is designed as a replacement for NHS Direct, which in 2010 the government said it would get rid of. 

Around 14,000 people call up NHS Direct each day and it costs the NHS £123 million. 

The 111 number will give patients advice and data about GP hours, surgeries, emergency dentists and other services.

Pilot schemes have been carrie out in County Durham, Nottingham, Lincolnshire and Luton, and the number will be extended to the Isle of Wight and Chesterfield before Christmas. 

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "The new 111 service will mean patients can access the whole of the NHS through just one simple number."

"This marks another important step in modernising the NHS and giving patients greater control and choice over their healthcare."

Dr Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "Not only will callers to the service be advised on what to do but also to be directed to the appropriate local service to address their need consistently."

"However, patients should be aware that this is not a replacement for the current system and that they can continue to call their GP practice as normal." 

 

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