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111 FAQs

When can NHS 111 be accessed and how?

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To get help from NHS 111, you should:

  • go online to
  • phone 111 for free from a landline or mobile phone.

What is 111?

People will contact NHS 111 online or by phone for non-emergency help.

The 111 service will assess the person’s needs and direct them to the most appropriate service which could be their GP, a pharmacy, a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit to speak directly to clinician or go to the emergency department.

If an experienced clinician at 111 decides the person needs to go to a minor injuries unit, urgent treatment centre or an emergency department, they will be able to arrange a timed arrival slot with any of these services.

For more information, please visit What Is NHS 111 | Use the Right Service

What are the benefits of contacting 111?

NHS 111 is available 24/7 365 days of the year.

It provides digital or telephone access to advice and can signpost people to the right service to use when they need urgent help, so people can be treated in the most appropriate care setting for their needs.

This can reduce pressure on Emergency Departments and help people avoid unnecessary waits. 

Can you give me an example of an emergency and a non-emergency? (response provided by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine)

Emergencies include:

  • loss of consciousness
  • acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
  • chest pain
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • severe allergic reactions
  • severe burns or scalds
  • stroke

If you think you are experiencing any of these it is vital you go straight to your emergency department or call 999.

If your issue is urgent but not life-threatening – like a sprained ankle – calling 111 and getting a timed arrival slot to attend an emergency department can save you a long and uncertain wait in the department, allowing you to wait in the comfort of your own home until the hospital is ready to see you.

Examples of non-emergencies would be earache or knee pain. While these may be uncomfortable you are unlikely to be in any danger and could be treated more appropriately somewhere other than an emergency department.

For these types of issues contact your GP, visit or call NHS 111.

What do you mean by timed arrival slot – is it like an appointment time?

If you need to go to a minor injuries unit, urgent treatment centre or emergency department, NHS 111 can arrange a timed arrival slot for you. They will give you a time to arrive and you can stay at home until then.

Staff will be expecting you at that time slot and will have received information from NHS 111 about why you are there.

Of course, people who need care most urgently will be seen first so you may still have to wait. But if we are able to help people get the treatment they need outside of urgent care services like emergency departments, we can reduce the time you might need to wait.

Please note that timed slots are not always possible so the 111 provider will advise of this during the call.

What if I turn up to an emergency department without a timed arrival slot?

If people go to an emergency department without having called NHS 111 first, they will still be seen. No one will be turned away.

Patients needing emergency treatment will be prioritised and those whose conditions are not as urgent may need to wait or will be directed to another service for treatment.

What happens if someone gets a timed arrival slot for an emergency department but doesn’t show up? Will someone check that they’re ok?

When someone who is expected at an emergency department does not arrive, there will be systems in place to assess whether a follow up is necessary. It is particularly important that if vulnerable patients or those at risk miss an appointment, they are followed up.

What if my condition changes while I’m waiting at home?

This depends on the change in your condition. If you become seriously ill, call 999. If you do not feel you require an ambulance but your condition has changed, call NHS 111 again to talk about what you are feeling. 

I have a complicated ongoing medical problem that is looked after by the hospital. When I get ill, I normally go straight to the A&E and they call the specialist to come and see me. Should I carry on doing this?

It might be better for you to try and contact the specialists that look after you before you come to the emergency department. Some patients with complicated medical problems need to be looked after in places other than the emergency department, particularly if they are vulnerable to infections.

If you are extremely ill, you should call 999.

Isn’t NHS 111 just an information line?

NHS 111 is much more than an information line – it helps to get people to the right service for their health needs, first time.

NHS 111 can arrange appointments at GP surgeries, some minor injuries units and urgent treatment centres - as well as send an ambulance should the person’s condition be serious or life-threatening.

NHS 111 is able to arrange a timed arrival slot for people who need to go to a minor injury unit, urgent treatment centre or emergency department.

Will NHS 111 be able to cope with the extra calls?

NHS 111 should only be used for urgent same day health care needs.

Whilst NHS experience high demand it must aim to prioritise those who need urgent health care most.

How does this ease pressure on other services?

In many cases NHS 111 clinicians and call advisors can give people the advice they need without them needing to use another services such as an emergency department. In fact, a large proportion of people who call NHS 111 are given advice and support to care for themselves at home.

Are call handlers trained and is it safe to follow a script?

NHS 111 health advisors undertake a rigorous training programme and follow a detailed algorithm which has been developed by leading clinicians to ensure patients get the right care.

A multidisciplinary team of experienced clinicians (including nurses, doctors, paramedics and pharmacists) oversee 111 calls, providing support where a patient has more complex needs.

The NHS 111 system automatically triggers the immediate ambulance dispatch if the patient’s symptoms are considered serious, life-threatening or in need of emergency treatment.

Can NHS 111 help those who struggle with communication or hearing, or do not have English as their first language?

All 111 providers follow The Accessible Information Standard, meaning that people who have a disability, impairment or sensory loss get information they can understand and any communication support they need.

For those who have difficulties communicating or hearing, they can:

  • tell the call handler that they need an interpreter
  • call 18001 111 on a text phone or using the Next Generation Text (NGT) Lite app on their smartphone, tablet or computer; or
  • use the NHS 111 British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter service if they’re deaf and want to use the phone service.

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