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NHS 111 is now live in Buckinghamshire, which means everyone in the county can access a new telephone service that has been introduced to make it easier to access local health services, when they have an urgent need.

If you need to contact the NHS for urgent care there are three numbers to know; 999 for life-threatening emergencies; your GP surgery; or 111.

When you call 111 you will be assessed, given advice and directed straight away to the local service that can help you best — that could be an out-of-hours doctor, minor injuries and illness unit, community nurse, emergency dentist or late opening chemist.

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls from landlines and mobile phones are free.

The service is being introduced nationally and will be available throughout the country by the end of 2013.

How does it work?

111 will get you through to a team of fully trained call advisers, who are supported by experienced nurses. They will ask questions to assess your symptoms and give you the healthcare advice you need or direct you to the right local service.

The NHS 111 team will, where possible, book an appointment or transfer you directly to the people you need to speak to. If they think you need an ambulance, one will be sent just as quickly as if you had dialled 999.

For less urgent health needs, patients should still contact their GP or local pharmacist in the usual way.

When do you use it?

You should call 111 if you:

need medical help fast, but it's not a 999 emergency;
don't know who to call for medical help or you don't have a GP to call;
think you need to go to A&E or another NHS urgent care service; or
require health information or reassurance about what to do next.

Why should you use it?

When you need health care urgently, NHS 111 will direct you straight away to the local service that can help you best.

NHS 111 can help take the pressure off the 999 service and local A&E departments, so they can focus on emergency cases.

For more information, please see the NHS 111 website

If you have any questions about the introduction of the NHS 111 service in Buckinghamshire please email bucks.nhs111@nhs.net

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