New non-emergency phone service launched in Gwent

The 111 phone number replaced the current NHS Direct Wales and GP out of hours service numbers in Gwent on 13 August.

The service is clinically-led, with trained call handlers working together with clinicians such as GPs, nurses, advanced nurse practitioners and pharmacists.

Like similar existing services in other parts of the UK, the health board said patients could call 111 for health information and advice, as well as for urgent care such as GP out of hours.

The freephone number will be available 24 hours a day to “signpost” patients to the most appropriate treatments for them, including the out of hours service if necessary, said the board.

For patients unsure whether or not their urgent health concern was an emergency, the board highlighted that a trained call handler could determine this following a series of questions.

It added that the service was designed to ensure patients “get the right treatment, in the right place, at the right time, relieving pressure on our busy ambulances and emergency departments”.

As part of a successful phased roll out throughout Wales, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is the fourth Health Board to launch the new service.

It was first launched as a pilot in October 2016 in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board – which covers Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea – and Carmarthenshire.

The service is also available in Hywel Dda and Powys. Full rollout across the country is due to be complete by 2021.

The 111 non-emergency helpline is already operating across England and Scotland – where it is known as NHS 24 – but is not currently available in Northern Ireland.