Ofcom has decided to allocate 111 as a new three-digit telephone number for non-emergency NHS healthcare services. The service will provide the public with access to advice and information on non-emergency healthcare issues and services available in their local area. It'll be piloted in a number of England's Strategic Health Authority areas in 2010 and will then be rolled out across the country subject to the results of of those pilot schemes. Similar schemes may follow in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The Department of Health says it'll make the 111 number free to callers, with all call costs borne by the NHS. Full details of the commercial arrangements haven't been finalised, so it's not known whether the number will be available from all (or any) mobile phone networks at this stage. [Ofcom statement]