NHS 111 Online has seen record usage over the past four months, as more people used digital channels to access medical help or health advice during times of lockdown and social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 30 million users visited NHS 111 Online between 26th February and 11th August. Over six million of these completed an online coronavirus assessment and received health advice based on the symptoms or travel history they reported.
At the peak of the crisis in mid-March, the service was used more than 950,000 times a day – 95 times higher than it normally would be.
During the pandemic, NHS 111 Online has been updated continuously to reflect the latest health advice and emerging evidence, making it a trusted and recognised source for NHS and Government guidance.
More than 70 updates were issued to keep the service aligned with changing coronavirus symptoms and public health advice.
NHS 111 Online has also played a key role in connecting the public to additional digital services related to coronavirus. People reporting symptoms on NHS 111 Online can get an isolation note or sign up for text messages to support them in managing their illness at home.
NHS 111 Online is available across England and can be accessed at 111.nhs.uk or via the NHS app. Data from the NHS111 Online as well as NHS Pathways telephone calls have been made publicly available through a new dashboard. The dashboard works as a useful indicator for getting early warnings about potential local outbreaks, based on the volume of triages going through NHS Pathways.
Ben Davison, Director of Citizen Health Tech at NHS Digital, said: ‘These figures show how important the use of digital tools is in supplying vital health information to members of the public during this outbreak.
‘Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen the number of NHS 111 online users increase dramatically. This is helping to relieve the burden on frontline NHS services as well as helping to get vast numbers of people the correct advice for their condition.
‘This is a fluid and fast-changing situation, and we are working closely with NHSX, NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and other organisations across the system to develop robust and resilient solutions to a range of new issues.’