Suffolk’s new NHS 111 service operator announced

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NHS Suffolk’s new 24 hour telephone advice service operator has now been selected.

Harmoni is the preferred bidder which will operate a new national NHS 111 service.

It will begin in Suffolk in February next year and aims to make it easier for people to access local NHS healthcare services when they need urgent medical help which is not a 999 emergency.

The organisation is England’s largest provider of urgent care services and currently operates the Suffolk out-of-hours GP and dental service.

The new NHS 111 service is being introduced throughout the country and will enable people to make a free call from either their land line or their mobile phone.

The call will be answered by a fully trained advisor who will assess the symptoms and offer advice or direct the patient straightaway to a local service that best meets their needs, be it A&E, out-of-hours GP, a late night chemist or their GP surgery.

The NHS Direct service - 0845 46 47 - will remain in place until March next year.

Dr Paul Watson, NHS Suffolk’s chief executive, said: “It can sometimes be confusing for patients to know where to go for the right treatment.

“NHS 111 will offer 24/7 help and advice and will mean patients getting directed to the most appropriate place, first time, which will mean patients are treated more quickly and appropriately and could save the need for an unnecessary trip to A&E.”