Since its launch just a week ago, more than a million people have accessed an NHS online resource providing advice, information and support around coronavirus.
As well as providing general information about the virus and its spread, the NHS 111 online service guides people through what to do if they think they might have been exposed to it or are showing symptoms. You can access it by clicking here.
A peak of more than 210,000 enquiries were made to the online service in a single day, with numbers expected to rise as coronavirus continues to spread. It was launched to provide the most up-to-date and correct advice and to ease pressure on the NHS 111 phone line so that call handlers can focus on people who are actually experiencing symptoms.
Telephone calls to the NHS 111 line are up by more than a third compared to this time last year, with an extra 120,000 calls logged during the first week in March. Around 500 additional call handlers have been trained and put in place to cope with the increased demand on the phone line, but it is still a huge help if people can use the online service first.
As well as ramping up its telephone and online advice for the public, the NHS continues to urge everyone to play their part in slowing the spread of the virus by following public health advice. In particular, this means washing their hands with soap and hot water more often and for longer than normal and catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue then putting it in the bin.
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “NHS staff continue to work around the clock to ensure everyone gets the care, advice and support that they need to deal with coronavirus.
“With more than a million people using the new online service, 111 online is helping people to get specific information and advice at the touch of a button, helping to give people quick advice, increase capacity in the NHS and free up clinicians’ time.
“To stay well and help stop the spread, people should wash their hands, cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze and put used tissues in the bin immediately.”
Investment in the NHS 111 phone line will increase still further if demand continues to rise. Remember, if you think you might have coronavirus or have been in contact with someone who has, do not go to your GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, as this risks spreading the virus to others. Instead, call 111 or use the NHS 111 online service for advice on what to do next.
• The advice on the NHS 111 online service is tailored to patients living in England. Those in Scotland should call their GP surgery or 111 (NHS 24), while those in Wales and Northern Ireland should phone 111.