RESIDENTS living in Carmarthenshire are being encouraged to call 111 instead of the old NHS Direct number if they need to see their GP Out of Hours.

Anyone who is registered with a Carmarthenshire GP can dial NHS 111 for free to access their Out of Hours service and NHS Direct Wales.

The number was launched in Carmarthenshire in May to make it easier for people to get the advice, support or treatment that is right for them.

People calling the number will firstly speak to a specially-trained call handler who will ask a series of questions.

This will allow the service’s experienced healthcare professionals – nurses and, during evenings, weekends and bank holidays, GPs and pharmacists – to prioritise calls so the most seriously ill are treated first.

Depending on the urgency of their condition, callers will get a call back from a nurse, doctor or pharmacist advising them what to do.

If they need to see a GP out of hours, they will be asked to attend one of the primary care centres within Carmarthenshire.

Crucially, call takers are trained to recognise when there is a risk of a life- threatening condition, so people who dial 111 but really need an ambulance will be connected immediately to the emergency ambulance service.

The 999 number should only be called in the event of a life-threatening emergency. If it isn’t an emergency but is nevertheless urgent, then people in Carmarthenshire will be able to call 111 instead.

Joe Teape, Director of Operations and Deputy Chief Executive at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “Historically if you needed to see an Out of Hours GP in Carmarthenshire you would have phoned your local surgery to be put through to the service. However, since the launch of NHS 111 we’ve seen a real shift in the way that these calls have been managed across the county, with more patients being directed to the right service for their needs. That’s why we would like to encourage as many people as possible to dial 111 if you need an Out of Hours GP, which also has the advantage of being free to call and easy to remember.”

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