The NHS 111 number is still a relatively new concept for many and there is still some uncertainty around when it should be used and in what medical situation. We hope this brief guide will clarify the process for you and your family so you can make best use of the service in the future.


The NHS 111 phone line has been set up to make NHS services in England more accessible, particularly when you need some quick help and advice when your doctor’s surgery is closed. It is available all day, every day without exception – 24hours a day, 365 days a year. What’s more, your calls are absolutely free.


You should call NHS 111 when you are in need of medical help and assistance quickly. However, if your condition is a more serious, life-threatening emergency, you should call 999.


Asking yourself the following questions should help you in deciding whether to call NHS 111:


  • Is my medical condition life threatening?
  • Does my condition need A&E?
  • Is my doctor’s surgery open?


If the answer is no, then you should call NHS 111 who will be able to provide you with information on what to do, where to go and how best to treat your symptoms. The NHS 111 team consist of trained advisors including experienced nurses and paramedics, so as well as offering you the best information they will also be able to offer support and reassurance.


They will ask you a number of questions to determine your symptoms so that they can direct you to the most appropriate service. This could be a Primary Care Centre, like the one here at Teddington Memorial Hospital, an Urgent Care Centre, a Minor Injuries Unit, a Walk-In Centre, a community nurse, an emergency dentist, eye casualty, out of hours doctor, or A&E if they deem it to be an emergency.


Remember, if your condition is life-threatening, you should call 999.


Some of these services require prior appointments. If this is the case, the NHS 111 advisors will make the appointment for you. Similarly, if you require an ambulance or community nurse they will arrange for one to be sent out to you.


If you are suffering from more minor ailments that you think could be treated with over the counter medicines, it’s probably worth visiting your local pharmacy in the first assistance. If you aren’t sure, call NHS 111 who will be able to advise.