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VIDEO: Delayed Health Helpline Launches

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Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:01am 4th February 2014

There is a new number to call if you are unwell in Cornwall.

111 is a free service and is designed to be used by if it is not life threatening but you are not sure who to speak to.

The replacement for NHS Direct was supposed to launch months ago - but the people who were going to run it pulled out saying it was financially unsustainable.

It has now been taken on by the local ambulance service, which already operates the system in Devon, Dorset and Somerset.

Calls will be answered at its centre in Exeter.

Dr Andy Haywood, NHS Kernow's clinical lead for NHS 111, said: "This simple, free to call, easy to remember number will make it easier for people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to access round-the-clock urgent care, no matter where they are.  

"If you are worried about your child who is ill, have a new rash or are concerned about, or need health advice, call 111 to speak to the team who will assess and help you straight away."

Dr Andy Smith, Medical Director for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We already have the experience of running the NHS111 service in Devon, Dorset and Somerset and we will be bringing that experience and expertise to the Cornwall service.

"Patient care is at the forefront of everything we do as a Trust and the 111 service in Cornwall will enable us to continue providing the right care, in the right place and at the right time in that part of the country."

The system has had problems at its launch in other parts of the country and bosses in the Duchy said the delay was in order to "learn lessons."

Call handlers are not medically trained, but will have been taught how to use a computer system used to assess those phoning the service.

They are overseen by medical professionals, including nurses, paramedics and midwives.

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