People in Stone and Eccleshall who need urgent but not emergency care are being urged to call NHS 111 – the round-the-clock direct line to the NHS.

111 is the NHS’s non-emergency phone number that’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is free to call from landlines and mobiles.

The service is staffed by fully trained advisers supported by experienced nurses and paramedics. They will ask questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the healthcare advice you need or direct you to the local service that is best for you and your needs.

You can call 111 if you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency, or if you think you might need to go to A&E or an urgent care centre but aren’t sure.

It’s also ideal if you don’t know who to talk to for help with an illness or injury and need information or assurance about what to do next, or if you need healthcare advice when your GP or pharmacy is closed.

Dr Ken Deacon, medical director for NHS England (North Midlands), said:

“It can be very worrying when you or a family member need healthcare advice but are not sure which NHS service to turn to for support. Fortunately, help is at hand from NHS 111.

“Call 111 and you’ll be put through to a trained advisor who can assess your concerns and then give you advice about what to do next.

“That might mean directing you to the NHS service that’s best placed to give you the care you need, such as an out-of-hours doctor, an urgent care centre or walk-in centre, a community nurse, an emergency dentist or a late-opening pharmacy. Alternatively it might involve giving you advice to help you look after yourself or your loved one at home.

“Where possible, the NHS 111 team will book an appointment for you or transfer you directly to the people you need to speak to. If they think you need an ambulance, they will immediately arrange for one to be sent to you.

“So if ever you’re in doubt and you need medical advice fast, call 111 day or night for your direct line to the NHS.”

For less urgent healthcare needs during daytime opening hours, people should contact their local pharmacist or GP in the usual way.

More information about staying well this winter is available by visiting www.nhs.uk/staywell.