Patients with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms are now asked to dial NHS 24 on 111, day or night, if they are unable to manage their symptoms or if their symptoms do not improve after seven days.

However, people are being urged not to call 111 with mild symptoms that they are able to manage at home – as the service is facing unprecedented demand, and it needs to be available for those who most need it.

NHS Western Isles are also urging local communities across the Western Isles: please do not call your GP or go to the surgery with regard to coronavirus.  

If you require a sick note due to coronavirus, you can get this from the NHS Inform website https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus.

This new system provides patients with a straightforward dedicated route to clinical advice and support, as well as freeing up GP practices to treat and care for all non-coronavirus health conditions.

Under the new arrangement introduced this week, callers to the 111 helpline will be assessed and, if necessary, transferred to a local community assessment hub.

There are assessment hubs, staffed by local clinicians, in Lewis, Uist and Barra, to ensure patients get the best possible advice at the right time.

Depending on their assessment, patients may be given advice over the telephone to help them continue self-isolating at home or be given an appointment to attend their local assessment centre for further treatment.

Where symptoms are managable and for people who have access to the internet, NHS Inform’s coronavirus webpage is still the fastest way for people to get the latest health advice and information.

There is also a free NHS 24 helpline for people without symptoms looking for general information on coronavirus - 0800 028 2816.

For patients who do not have any coronavirus symptoms (but need to see a doctor), they should continue to telephone their GP when open and not call NHS 24. In the out-of-hours period, when displaying symptoms other than coronavirus, you should only call 111 if you need urgent assessment and cannot wait until your GP is open.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “This change means that anyone who has coronavirus symptoms and needs additional help or advice can now call the same number any time, day or night, seven days a week.

“As the number of people presenting with symptoms continues to grow, we must adapt to manage the daily growth in demand. As well as ensuring people are getting the right help at the right time, this step will also help ensure GP capacity to provide care for people in the community is protected and that only those cases that need to be admitted to hospital are admitted.”

NHS 24’s Director of Service Delivery Steph Phillips said: “NHS 24 has been at the forefront of supporting Scotland’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, through the NHS Inform website, the special helpline and the 111 service. This change will make it easier for people who are concerned about their symptoms to get the help they need as quickly as possible. Please help us to help you.”

Background

NHS Inform’s coronavirus webpage is still the fastest way for people to get the latest health advice and information.

If you need a sick note due to coronavirus, don’t contact your GP or NHS 24. You can download an isolation note directly from NHS Inform.

Common symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • high temperature or fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

Patients should only call NHS 24 (on 111) if their symptoms:

  • have not improved after 7 days
  • are severe or they have shortness of breath
  • worsen during home isolation

For any other health related concerns, make NHS Inform your first point of contact or call your GP during opening hours. If your GP practice is closed and your query can’t wait you can still call NHS 24 (on 111).

If you don't have symptoms and are looking for general information on coronavirus, call NHS Inform’s free helpline: 0800 028 2816.