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BBC News published an article this week stating that two hospitals in the Gloucestershire region had declared a major event as they struggle to cope with the high demand placed on their respective A&E departments. Reports of further hospitals doing the same surfaced throughout the week as they struggle to cope with the influx of patients at A&E.

A spokesman for the NHS stated that approximately 30% of patients using these hospital’s emergency departments had ‘non-urgent ailments’ and should consider using the 111 helplines before going to A&E.

NHS 111

So what is the 111 line and when should it be used?

– The 111 line was introduced in 2013 to make it easier for the public to access local NHS healthcare services throughout the UK.

– It is to be used in the case of a medical emergency or medical advice is required but where the situation is not life-threatening.

– NHS 111 is staffed by fully trained advisors who are supported by nurses and paramedics. They will also ask questions to assess symptoms and what the appropriate response is.

– They can also make direct appointments for you or transfer you to the people you may need to speak to (be it A&E, out-of-hours doctors or emergency dentists).

– If an adviser feels that the situation requires an ambulance they do have the ability to immediately arrange for one to be sent.

– If the situation is life-threatening and a genuine emergency has occurred then dialling 999 or visiting A&E is obviously imperative!

The below infographic was published by the Berkshire East NHS and explains when you should and shouldn’t visit A&E.

NHS Choose Well Infographic

Given the stresses and strains that are placed on the NHS at this time of year, stop and think; if your situation isn’t life-threatening possibly speak to NHS 111 and let them advise the best course of action.