NHS 111 expanding with paediatric advice and mental health support to ease hospital pressures

NHS 111 is expanding to include paediatric advice and direct access to urgent mental health support in a bid to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions.

Children are set to have same-day appointments with specialists, rather than attending A&E, which is feeling the strain of long waiting times and ambulance response times.

Parents and carers can use NHS 111 where their kids will have access to specialist advice from clinicians who can help manage their illnesses at home or decide another route for their care.

Direct access to urgent mental health support is also being rolled out right across the country.

People will be able to select the mental health option when they call up for help.

The new plans will see more clinicians - including retired staff and returners - working in NHS 111 to provide support to patients.

The NHS already has increased the number of beds by half since summer and these plans will see more than 10,000 before next winter so people can be cared for at home.

This strategy is in a bid to reduce hospital admissions.

NHS chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: "The NHS has experienced the start of a winter like no other - the threat of the flu and covid 'twindemic' became a reality and that was alongside huge demand for all services - from ambulance and A&E services to mental health and GP appointments.

"Today we are taking our plans and preparations even further - building on the extra beds, call handlers and 24/7 control centres."

She added that technology was at the centre to "transform the way people access services and ensure they get the most appropriate care for their individual needs".

In addition to these plans, local areas will develop new paediatric hubs for children suffering from acute respiratory infections and will receive same-day access to care out of hospital.

Are you being treated at home in a 'virtual ward'? To share your experience anonymously, please email

The NHS is also increasing the amount of information that the public can access about their nearest hospitals, with new data on 12-hour A&E waiting times and discharge times to be published.

People should then be able to compare local services and make decisions about their care.

NHS 111 is the first port of call for more than 50,000 people every day.