When Should I Call 111 Or My GP?
There are many reasons that you may need to call 111 or your GP. You might be feeling unwell or injured, need to have a blood test or are worried about your health.
You might also be worried about a family member or someone you know who isn’t well and need urgent medical help. It might be that they have a mental health problem, are experiencing a long-term condition or are having trouble managing their medication.
Some of these symptoms may sound worrying, but it’s important to remember that they are not life-threatening, and should be treated quickly by a GP. For example, if you suddenly lose your memory or get confused, you should seek urgent medical advice as soon as possible, but it’s not necessarily an emergency like a stroke.
Your GP will be able to tell you what to do next, if they think you need medical treatment or if they can refer you to another NHS service such as A&E. Alternatively, they can send an ambulance to take you to hospital, if this is the best option for your needs.
A recent study compared the outcomes of calls to 999 and NHS 111, and found that those who accessed an emergency care service through NHS 111 were more likely to have been advised to go to a GP or other healthcare provider than those who used a traditional 999 call. This was partly because non-clinical call handlers followed decision algorithms that were risk averse, and were supported by clinically trained healthcare professionals.
In a small study that involved a number of callers from different regions of England, those who had received this guidance were less likely to go to an emergency department or have their issues handled in an acute setting. They were also more likely to be in an area where it was easy to get a GP appointment.
It was also estimated that the service could be more cost-effective, if it were able to reduce demand for ambulance services and emergency departments, as patients are able to self-triage themselves. This could be a cost saving for the NHS as it may reduce ambulance costs and free up the ambulance staff to focus on more serious cases.
The report recommended that there should be a formal review of the impact of this change on the demand for ambulance services and EDs. It should also include a detailed analysis of the factors that influence the use of these services.
This would include the type of illness, how far away the patient is from their nearest GP or emergency care centre, whether the patient had been to a GP previously and whether a clinician had spoken to the patient during the call. This information would then be shared with all of the local treatment centres in England to enable them to provide more tailored urgent care.
All of the data is collected and recorded in a secure way, and is only shared with your registered GP or local treatment centres with your consent. This is in line with our obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998.