Should I Ring 111 or 999?

A medical issue is always scary, no matter how serious it can be. You may find yourself instinctively typing 999 into your phone for any problem, but could 111 actually be the right choice for your issue?

Read on to find out in what situation you should call 111 or 999.

Call 111 If…

You should call 111 if you think you may need to go to A&E, but the situation isn’t life-threatening or limb-threatening. A trained operator can provide you with urgent care and assessment over the phone. Problems you may want to call 111 for include:

  • Suspected broken bones
  • Sprains
  • Burns
  • Cuts

Through 111 you can have a telephone or video consultation with a clinician, or they may book you an appointment to attend A&E or the Minor Injuries Unit. Booking an appointment with 111 in advance will save you waiting a long time in a hospital waiting room and taking up the space of someone who may need urgent help before you. 111 can be helpful if you’re not registered at a surgery, or you need advice and your surgery is closed for the day.

Call 999 If…

You should call 999 in a life-threatening medical emergency. This is when you or someone else is seriously ill or injured, putting their life at risk. Here are a few cases when you should call 999 and some of the symptoms:

  • Heart attack – a pain like a band, weight or squeezing in your chest
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems – choking or gasping, can’t get words out
  • Stroke – face drooping on one side, difficulty speaking, can’t raise arms
  • Fits – shaking or jerking uncontrollably, can be conscious or unconscious
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe bleeding – a heavy flow that won’t stop
  • Rapid swelling – eyes, lips, mouth, throat or tongue
  • Allergic reactions
  • Severe burns
  • Major trauma such as from traffic accidents, stabbing, shooting, a fall or serious head injury

If you believe you or someone is having a heart attack or stroke, call 999 immediately as every second counts with these conditions.

Unsure Who To Call?

The simplest way to put it is that 999 is for emergencies and 111 is for non-emergencies.

If you’re unsure about who to call, always make 111 your first choice. They will ask questions about the issue and get you the help you need. They can help book an appointment for you, or get your urgent help if your emergency is more serious. You can even get help online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at

If you have a less serious issue, get in touch with NHS GP for online GP services. It’s quick and easy to register and you get access to a range of health management tools, GP video consultations and ongoing prescriptions or appointments at your local GP Practice in North London. Give us a call on 0208 902 4792 if you have any questions, or register online now.

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