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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.

111

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 then be told which local service will be best for you to use.

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.

999

Only us this number in a real emergency.

The person on the other end of the phone will ask you a 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:

  • An accident
  • 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

If you call 999 and it is not an emergency, you could stop the ambulance from going to someone who really does need it.

Riddle me this!
Which of these is an emergency?
quiz girl right
quiz girl right
quiz girl right
Nurse holding image
999 is for emergencies, 111 is for getting medical help and advice - it's important to know the difference.
Nurse holding image