A NEW hotline has been set up for anyone in Hampshire feeling ill looking for health advice.

Health bosses have replaced the NHS Direct number with a triple-digit number to give free advice to those suffering from a non life-threatening health issue.

People can now call the NHS on 111 to get information about where to go for treatment and should be called if medical help is needed fast but is not an emergency.

Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Primary Care Trust hopes the NHS111 service will be easier for people to access healthcare while taking pressure off hospitals.

But the 24-hour service is yet to be up and running in Hampshire’s neighbouring counties but health bosses hope it will be in operation across the country by October 2013.

A team of advisers supported by trained paramedics and nurses will assess the caller’s symptoms, provide relevant advice and direct them to the right service.

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) will operate the 111 service under a fiveyear agreement.

Head of 111 South for SCAS Mark Rowell said: “I would urge anyone with an urgent, but not life-threatening, illness or health concern to contact us for advice.

“The service is open 24 hours a day and will help people find the right place to go for treatment. This includes referring patients to out-of-hours doctors, advising them to make an appointment with their own doctor or advising them to attend at a minor injuries unit for example.

“So, if you’re worried about your child’s temperature, or need urgent health advice, then call 111 to speak to the team who will assess and help you straight away,” he added.