A WORCESTER GP has added his voice to appeals to patients to think carefully about the best place to get healthcare or advice from.

On Saturday, December 27 the West Midlands’ NHS 111 service received 8,617 calls – making it the busiest day the service had seen since it was launched in November 2013.

Worcester-based GP Dr Jonathan Leach was one of the clinicians taking calls at the centre in Dudley and said the day was more than 50 per cent busier than the same day in 2013.

“We were able to assist patients to get to the right service, with only a very small percentage – just 2.9 per cent - referred to emergency departments and 6.1 per cent needing an ambulance.”

NHS 111, which is run by West Midlands Ambulance Service, involves non-clinical call handlers working alongside doctors to ensure patients get the best care from the most appropriate place.

With all elements of the NHS currently under serious pressure, Dr Leach urged patients to think carefully before using any health service.

“All of the NHS services are stretched this winter, including local GP services and urgent care centres,” he said.

“However patients can help themselves by ensuring they have basic remedies in the house before the onset of any illness and by helping elderly neighbours to get prescriptions for instance.

“Pharmacies can provide good, sound advice and over the counter medicines to help with everyday ailments."

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day and all calls are free.