Birmingham residents are being urged to call 111 for advice when they need medical help fast and they’re not sure if it’s an emergency.
Birmingham CrossCity Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which plans, designs and funds health services for more than 742,000 people in the city, is highlighting the free 24-hour telephone health service to help ease pressure on A&E services.
NHS 111 is a free number, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is staffed by trained call handlers, with nurses on site to offer support if needed.
Call handlers can provide health advice, put people in touch with the right service, arrange to have them seen by a doctor or call an ambulance for them.
Birmingham CrossCity CCG Chair Dr Gavin Ralston, a GP in Harborne, said: “We are asking everyone to think before they go to A&E or call 999. These services have been set up to deal with emergencies such as chest pains, loss of consciousness, broken bones or heavy blood loss.
“Our doctors, nurses and paramedics want to be able to look after the people they are specifically trained to treat and who can benefit the most from their expert skills, especially during the winter when our hospitals are so much busier than usual.
“There are often other, more appropriate and actually convenient services people can use to help themselves or their loved ones to get better, which will usually be much quicker than waiting for hours in A&E. Of course, in many cases, the best cure for minor illnesses and injuries is staying at home, getting plenty of rest and fluids and taking over-the-counter fever and pain-reducing medication.
“Telephone services such as NHS 111 are designed to offer advice and guidance and can help highlight where best to get the treatment you require.”
To find your nearest pharmacy, GP or walk-in centre, and for advice on staying well in the winter, please visit www.choosewellmidlands.nhs.uk