ADDITIONAL doctors, nurses and support staff in the NHS 111 service will be used this Easter to ensure the service is adequately staffed for an anticipated increase in demand.

Dr Tim Burke, chair of the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG), which is responsible for commissioning the service, said: “As with the implementation of any new service, having the right number of call handlers to provide rapid response has been challenging at times, particularly as more people have used the service and we have seen a higher demand at peak times.

“It is possible that during very busy periods, such as over Easter some callers may have to wait longer for their calls to be answered. But as a whole the system is working well. Please do persevere or ring back if advised to do so by the answer message.

“The purpose of NHS 111 is to help people to use the right urgent care service that meets their needs and to avoid using ambulances and hospital emergency departments when other services would have been able to help.”

NHS 111 is a free to use service and is available 24-hours-a-day, 365 days a year.

When patients call 111 they will be assessed by trained call handlers, supported by clinicians, who will provide healthcare advice and direct people to the relevant local services.

These services include walk-in centres, community nurses, emergency dentists, late opening pharmacies or out-of-hours services.