Devon’s doctors are urging patients to use the NHS 111 system for health advice through the winter months as hospitals become increasingly busy.
The free to call service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can provide patients with advice on any urgent issues that they may be facing.
The service is staffed by a team of fully trained medical advisers who are assisted by nurses and paramedics.
They are able to provide information on personal health, direct a patient to a walk-in centre or minor injuries unit and, if necessary, book an appointment with a GP.
New for this year, patients can now access 111 online to get medical help or advice using a smartphone, laptop or other digital device.
Patients can use the new 111 online service to get answers about their symptoms, find out where to get the right healthcare in their local area, get advice on self-care and access further advice from a nurse or doctor on the phone, if necessary.
Dr Lisa Gibbons, GP and NHS 111 clinical lead for Devon, said “If you are worried about an urgent medical concern, the 111 service is an invaluable source of information for patients, particularly at this time of year when our A&E departments are very busy.
“Depending on the situation, advisers can connect you to a nurse, an emergency dentist, or even a GP, getting you the right medical attention when you urgently need it.
“Advisers are able to book appointments over the phone, and if they think that you need an ambulance they can arrange it.”
However, patients are reminded to contact 999 should there be a life-threatening emergency.
Dr Gibbons added: “A&E departments need to be able to concentrate on the most serious conditions, so if it is not an emergency please phone 111 or visit 111 Online www.111.nhs.uk”