Local SNP MSP Adam Ingram has welcomed the launch of a new free and easy to remember number for NHS 24 in Scotland. People looking for medical help and advice can, from this week contact NHS 24 by calling 111.
It means callers in Scotland will no longer be charged when calling NHS 24 from a landline or mobile.
NHS 24 will continue to deliver the same high quality service for anyone seeking advice and support during the out of hours period until their GP surgery reopens.
It previously cost the price of a local phone call from a BT landline, with calls from other landline service providers and mobile providers often costing more.
Commenting Mr Ingram said:
“I strongly believe that our NHS should be free at the point of care for all, and this new number will help to protect these founding principles of the NHS.
“The new number is easy to remember, and free to call, which will ensure everyone across Scotland can access support and advice from NHS 24 whenever they need it.
“NHS 24 already provides a valuable service to patients across Scotland when their GP surgery is closed, and there will be absolutely no change to the high quality service provided through this new number.
“By introducing the 111 number the Scottish Government are removing any barrier for the public to access the health advice out of hours.
“This will help to ensure people have access to health information and support, including access to a GP, when they really need it.
“In Scotland, the 111 number will be run by NHS 24 as a public service, in public hands - serving the needs of patients.”
“This is in complete contrast to the approach adopted by the NHS in England, where different organisations, including private sector providers, are contracted to provide the number in different regions.”
Notes to Editor
NHS 24 will continue to be contactable via the old number (08454 24 24 24) for a limited time while callers get used to calling the new number. Call volumes to this number will be closely monitored and a decision to close the line will be taken at an appropriate time.
NHS 24 provides a range of telehealth and telecare services to Scotland. NHS 24 takes 1.5 million calls per year - and answers calls on average within four seconds - from patients seeking help when their GP surgery is closed. Scotland’s national telephone triage service has been supporting callers in Scotland for ten years and is an integral part of NHS Scotland. NHS 24 maintains high levels of service throughout the year, including during periods of peak demand such as the festive period when the service can receive around 8,000 calls per day.