When to phone 111

Phone 999 or go to A&E if:

You have:

  • a life or limb threatening emergency
  • signs of a heart attack or stroke
  • difficulty breathing
  • severe bleeding
  • severe injury
  • seizures
  • a severe allergic reaction
  • tried to end your life

Phone 111 if:

  • you think you need A&E but its not life or limb threatening
  • you need support with mental health distress
  • you need urgent care and your GP, pharmacy or dental practice is closed

Check your symptoms

Use our symptom-checkers to assess your symptoms and find out what you should do next.

What happens when I phone 111?

The first person you’ll speak to when you phone 111 will be a call handler. They’ll ask you: 

  • who you are 
  • where you’re phoning from 
  • why you’re phoning 

We need to know as much about you and your health as possible to offer you the best help and advice.  

If you’re phoning on behalf of someone else, make sure you’re with them at the time of the call.  

You’ll be assessed by our triage team and they’ll make you an appointment if needed. This may involve a phone or video consultation with a clinician from your local health board or an appointment to attend A&E or Minor Injuries Unit. 

You may be put through to a healthcare professional, such as a: 

  • nurse practitioner – who can provide general healthcare advice and might refer you to a GP, out-of-hours service or A&E
  • dental nurse – who can assess toothache or dental problems out of hours and either provide self-care advice or refer you for emergency treatment
  • pharmacy advisor – who can provide information about medication
  • psychological wellbeing practitioner – who can help you reach a safe outcome if you’re in distress, or offer you other services if needed
  • mental health nurse – who can provide expert clinical support

During normal working hours always contact your own GP for urgent advice and treatment. The 111 service cannot arrange appointments at your GP. 

Any information you provide will be treated according to our data protection policy.

When will I get a callback?

If you’ve phoned NHS 24 and were advised you’d get a callback, you’ll receive a callback from your local health board, not NHS 24. 

While waiting for your local service to contact you, you should only phone NHS 24 again if your symptoms worsen. 

The callback service is very busy. You might have to wait longer than usual to get a callback. 

Missing a callback

If you miss your callback, a nurse will try to phone up to 3 times. If you do not answer any of these, you’ll have to start your assessment again by phoning 111. 


If you’re waiting for an appointment time, please be aware that NHS 24 does not manage appointments in your local area. Your local health board will contact you with an appointment time if needed. 

Times we're busier than usual

During our busy times, when there’s lots of people phoning us, you may wait longer to speak to someone. 

Our busiest times are: 

  • 6pm until 9pm weekdays 
  • 9am until midday on Saturdays and Sundays


We follow the same confidentiality guidelines as the rest of the NHS. All calls are recorded for patient safety.  

Read more about how the NHS handles your personal health information

Your information

When you phone 111, we’ll complete a clinical care record. We will share your information with your GP and with any other NHS team that we refer you to unless you tell us not to. 

Our clinical team will use your Emergency Care Summary (ECS) or Key Information Summary (KIS) if available.

Other languages and communication differences

You can access 111 in different ways: 

  • the free British Sign Language (BSL) interpreting video relay service contactSCOTLAND-BSL 
  • contact NHS 24 by textphone on 18001 111, or use the Relay UK app 
  • the free interpretation service Language Line if English isn’t your first or preferred language 

Access to 111 in other languages

When you phone 111, you can listen to the recorded messages in other languages. After phoning 111, press 9. You’ll have the option to press 1 to listen to the messages in other languages then: 

  • for Polish – press 1 
  • for Arabic – press 2 
  • for Mandarin – press 3
  • for Spanish – press 4
  • for Romanian – press 5
  • for Sorani – press 6
  • for Ukrainian – press 7
  • for other languages – press 8 

The NHS 24 colleague who answers will know that you’ve requested language support, and will arrange an interpreter. 

Once you’re connected to an interpreter, you’ll have a 3 way conversation with NHS 24. You can explain the problem in your language and get the help you need. 

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