A NEW free and easy to remember phone number for NHS 24 will in operation from next summer.
Currently, patients calling NHS Scotland’s advice service are charged the price of a local phone call, which varies depending on service provider, but the new 111 number means they will no longer be charged when calling from a landline or mobile telephone.
NHS 24 will continue to deliver the same service for anyone seeking advice and support during the out-of-hours period when their GP surgery is closed.
Speaking at the launch of the new number, health secretary Alex Neil said he strongly believes that NHS services should be free at the point of contact and the new number will ensure that this applies to those who seek support and advice by telephone.
He said: “By introducing this memorable and free number we are removing any barrier for the public to access the health advice when their GP surgery is closed. By ensuring people have access to health information it will also help to keep emergency lifesaving services available for those who really need them.”
John Turner, NHS 24 chief executive, also welcomed free access for patients consulting the service.
He said: “NHS 24 has been providing high quality, safe and effective telephone triage and support services to the people of Scotland for the past 10 years. We have a range of highly skilled staff taking 1.5 million calls per year from patients when their GP surgery is closed.
“NHS 24 will work closely with a range of NHS services such as the GP out-of-hours service, primary care emergency centres, A&E services, the Scottish Ambulance Service and patient representatives to fully plan and implement the change to 111. This will help ensure that, when 111 is introduced to Scotland next year, NHS 24 and our partners across Scotland, will continue to provide high quality support to patients and their families on the new number, which is easy to remember and free to call.”