Should you need urgent health advice please contact your GP or call NHS 111. In an emergency please visit A&E or call 999.
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Who should I call for medical help? Overhanging boy

If you or someone you know becomes really poorly, you may need to phone for medical help.

There are two NHS phone lines that you can ring at any time of day or night. These are 111 and 999, and you need to know which one to use, in case an adult can’t do this for you.


Use this number when you need medical help straightaway, but it’s not an emergency.

You will be asked a few questions about how you are feeling and what is happening and you will be told what to do.

They might tell you to make an appointment with your doctor, or to visit a local walk-in centre. Or they might decide it is an emergency and send an ambulance.


Only use this number in a real emergency.

The person on the other end of the phone will ask you some questions so they can understand what help you need, and will then send an ambulance.

What is an emergency?

These examples are all emergencies:

  • A serious accident where somebody has really hurt themselves
  • Someone who has stopped breathing
  • Someone who does not respond when you speak to them. They may be ‘unconscious’
  • Someone who has become very unwell because they have an illness like asthma, diabetes, epilepsy or a serious allergy
Riddle me this!
Which of these is an emergency?
Quiz girl
Quiz girl
Quiz girl
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999 is for emergencies, 111 is for getting medical help and advice - it's important to know the difference.
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Page last reviewed: 10-11-2021

Next review due: 10-11-2024