Dial new 111 number for medical help and advice

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A new medical hotline has been launched to help direct people to the right services and take the pressure off 999 operators.

Anyone who lives in, or is visiting, Herts can dial 111 when they need medical help fast but it is not a life-threatening situation.

The NHS number is being introduced as part of changes to urgent care services to make it easier for the public to get in touch with the right contact.

It is also expected to take some of the pressure off the busy 999 service and accident and emergency departments, which many turn to when they do not know where else to go.

When someone dials 111 they will be assessed by an operator, given advice and directed to the local service that can help them best.

That could be A&E, an urgent care centre, an out of hours GP, community nurse or a late-night opening pharmacist.

The number operates around the clock throughout the year and is free to callers.

111 will not replace existing local telephone services or NHS Direct but provide patients with an additional choice in how they find non-emergency care.