The service was initially launched in part of the county in September last year, but now the remaining areas will also switch to 111.
NHS 111 has already replaced the previous NHS Direct and from today it replaces GP out-of-hours telephone numbers in throughout the remainder of the county (Mid Devon and North Devon has already switched).
GP practices have changed their answer phone messages and websites to direct patients to call 111 when their surgery is closed. Anyone ringing their GP practice out of hours will now be advised to use the 111 number.
NHS111 is a national initiative that is being rolled out across the country. 111 is a new telephone number that has been introduced to make it easier for patients to access local health services. The number should be used when there is an urgent medical need but the condition does not warrant a 999 call.
NHS111 is available 24-hours-a-day, 365 days a year. When patients call 111 they will be assessed by trained call handlers who are supported in their role by clinicians. The call handlers and clinicians will then provide healthcare advice and direct people to the relevant local service that best suits their needs. That could be an Out of Hours doctor, local walk in centre or minor injuries unit, community nurse, emergency dentist or late opening chemist. If an emergency ambulance is required then this will be arranged automatically during the call.
The Devon NHS111 service is commissioned by Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (New Devon CCG) including Torbay. SWASFT already provide a successful NHS111 service in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Dorset and Somerset and will be providing the service in Devon over the next five years.
Dr Andy Smith, Medical Director for SWASFT, said: “We have the experience of running the NHS111 service in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Dorset, Somerset and part of Devon and we will be bringing that experience and expertise to complete the Devon service. We have a local base in Exeter with local staff and all the local knowledge that comes from managing our successful ambulance service in the county too.”
Dr Simon Scott-Hayward, GP clinical lead for Devon’s NHS111 service, added: “NHS111 can help patients to navigate their way through the myriad of NHS services that are out there. It is easy and free to access and will point patients to the best place to meet their urgent health needs. We have been careful in our planning and preparation for the Devon service and during our testing the Department of Health praised SWASFT for their recruitment and training processes. We are confident that our service will be amongst the very best in the country.”
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