Gwynedd, Wales, March, 2021 -- The long-awaited free NHS 111 helpline is set to be rolled out in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) area this summer.
The delivery of the free-to-call 24-hour service, which connects urgent but non-emergency health calls with out-of-hours GPs and the Welsh Ambulance Service, was delayed across the region due to the coronavirus outbreak last year.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "The roll-out will be completed by early 2022 and in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board by the summer."
BCUHB has been approached for comment.
The helpline was first piloted in Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea in 2016 and was rolled out in parts of South Wales in 2018.
During the pandemic, the 111 service was made available via the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust but it was restricted to North Wales patients showing coronavirus symptoms.
Janet Finch-Saunders, MS for Aberconwy, said: "I warmly welcome the news that NHS 111 will finally be delivered to residents across the BCUHB region from this summer. This has become a vital telephone service that many of my most vulnerable residents are desperate to utilise, particularly after strong advertising campaigns for the service throughout the pandemic.
"Like many local residents, I was alarmed last year at indications of a delay, as parity of access to this medical assistance should have been made a priority. Indeed, it has jarred with many of my constituents that they have been stuck having to pay for calls to NHS Direct Wales to seek non-emergency medical advice for so long, compared to elsewhere."
Patients who do show symptoms of coronavirus are being asked to first use the online symptoms checker on the NHS Direct website, where they could then be advised to call the helpline.
The 999-dial code should continue to be used in any cases of emergency.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
NHS Direct is a 24 hour health advice and information service provided by the National Health Service (NHS) in England. NHS Direct provides confidential access to medical information, guidance and reassurance through a range of interactive services. These include an expert telephone advice line and detailed web resources.
Published: Monday, March 29, 2021
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