Coronavirus: More than a million people seek online NHS advice
PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 March 2020
More than a million people have sought advice on coronavirus from a dedicated NHS online service in the first few days since its launch.
An update to 111 online was released less than two weeks ago on February 26 to help people get quick advice during the Covid-19 outbreak.
NHS England said that one day saw inquiries reach a record high of more than 210,000.
In Norfolk the number of calls made to 111 in the week ending March 1 was 7,187 - up from 6,471 the previous year.
The biggest spike in calls taken during that period came on Sunday, February 29, when 1,589 people sought advice from the service.
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The online service aims to free up time for clinical call handlers so they can prioritise people calling NHS 111 who are experiencing symptoms.
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New figures show the 111 phone service received an extra 120,000 calls in the first week of March, up more than a third compared with the same time last year.
Between February 27 and March 5 this year, NHS 111 answered 389,779 calls.
Meanwhile, around 500 additional initial call responders have been trained - a 20pc increase - as part of the government's battle plan announced last week.
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Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, 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 one 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."
NHS England said investment in the 111 service was set to increase if demand continued to rise.
An NHS spokesman said: "NHS staff are working round the clock to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
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"That's why we're already recruiting 500 additional initial call responders to answer up to 20,000 more 111 calls every day, with further staffing increases in training, providing a new online service which can provide advice at the touch of a button, and boosting the availability of clinical advice for those who need it."