back to article Department of Health tests online NHS 111 helpline

The Department of Health is trialling an NHS 111 online service as part of a plan to provide a service to complement locally driven telephone services. The department plans to have rolled out the 111 helpline by April 2013. It is supposed to replace NHS Direct as the first port of call for patients with urgent, but not life- …


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  1. strangefish

    NHS Direct

    It was obviously critically important to replace this service with a host of different and undoubtedly more expensive other codswallop since it was easy to find and worked really well

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NHS Direct

      NHS Direct disaster......

      My daughter high temperature, holding both ears screaming all evening, called NHS Direct who advised a spoonful of capol every couple of hours.....

      Finally got hold of Doctor, diagnosed severe ear infection and prescribed antibiotics immediately. Within an hour began to work. Without the antibiotics there was a risk of blisters developing on the ear drum.

      If in doubt don't rely on them, insist on getting a doctor out.

  2. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face


    Might be having a blonde moment, but do you mean 111 is the number to dial?

    Always thought this was a no-no because in the old days of pulse dialling, the wires would click together when blown in the wind and cause fake 1's to be dialled. (Hence 911 / 999 for emergency numbers).

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: 111?

      We don't have pulse dialling any more, so what's the problem?

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: 111?

        It might be that almost no-one is using a pulse-dial telephone but I believe that most if not all exchanges support it. Some recent info here:

        1. This Side Up

          Re: 111?

          It's totally daft using 111. Most line cards do support loop disconnect so a child playing with the phone or someone trying to get a faulty line to work by going on- and off-hook three times could very easily dial 111 by accident. Why do you think the emergency number is 112 and not 111?

          And yes I do still use an LD phone (amongst others) - a classic Ferranti Flip-phone that matches my kitchen decor.

  3. Skoorb

    The phone service has been running in test areas for a few years.

    For a cheesy video that explains how the back end system works, see It's sort of interesting for techies. Though you may wish to jump 2 minutes in.

    It started in County Durham in 2010.

    It's now running in County Durham and Darlington, Lancashire (excluding West Lancashire), Lincolnshire, the London boroughs of Croydon and Hillingdon, Luton, North Derbyshire and Nottingham City, and on the Isle of Wight.

    The tag line is "111, when it's less urgent than 999".

    The idea is that is replaces NHS Direct, and all local urgent care phone services, so out of hours access to GPs for example will go through them. This makes it easier for patients. 111 is also free to call, even from mobiles.

    The other advantage is that if you ring it and need an ambulance, they can dispatch one without any delay, exactly as if you had rung 999. In fact, in some areas (Durham and Lancashire for a start) 111 actually puts you through to the ambulance control room anyway, just as a lesser priority.


    It's like the 101 number you ring to get the police if it's not an emergency.

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