NHS 111 online to help people with coronavirus

A new NHS 111 online service has been put in place to help people get quick advice about coronavirus, as enquiries to the health service about the outbreak have surged.

More than 35,000 people used the site in a single day over the weekend to get help and advice.

The new NHS 111 online service to help deal with the volume of enquiries relating to coronavirus has given advice to over 70,000 since launched on Wednesday.

The NHS in England is also ploughing an initial extra £1.7 million in to 111 to offer more clinical advice over the phone.

Further funding will also provide 500 additional initial call responders with the capacity to answer around 20,000 more calls every day.

Investment will increase if demand continues to rise.

Additional investment will free up clinical call handlers’ time so they are able to prioritise callers with symptoms.

Enquiries jumped by a quarter after advice for travellers who have been in Italy changed last week.

NHS 111 provided around 20,000 hours of expert clinical advice in January.

The 111 service tells callers whether they require a test and helps to arrange one for those who need it.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “NHS staff are working round the clock to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We know that 111 call volumes have been high and people have understandably turned to the service for help, support and advice which is why we are ploughing in £1.7 million to increase staff available to field calls.

“The public is also now benefitting from the new NHS 111 online service which is helping increase capacity and free up clinicians time by offering specific help and advice on coronavirus at the touch of a button and has already had more than 70,000 hits since launched on Wednesday.

“I would like to say a personal thank all those NHS staff who are doing an incredible job caring for patients, testing thousands of worried people and taking calls from thousands more.”

In addition to the home diagnostic testing programme that is currently being rolled out in every part of the country, the NHS has introduced new, more convenient and efficient ways of testing such as the “drive-through” centre that has started operating in west London.

The public can play their part in slowing the spread of the virus by following public health advice.

People should wash their hands, cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze and put used tissues in the bin immediately.