A NEW NHS 24 call centre has opened in Dundee to support non-emergency healthcare needs.

Dundee premises will help facilitate the increase in demand for the NHS 24 service and alleviate pressures on the rest of NHS and social care.

NHS 24 received 182,000 calls during December and over the Hogmanay weekend, almost 50,000 calls were received.

The busiest day was Monday, January 3 with 15,303 calls – the highest daily total for 11 years.

Around 140 staff will be in post in Dundee by the end of March, including call handlers, nurses, psychological mental health practitioners and mental health nurses.

Heath Secretary Humza Yousaf said the role NHS 24 has played in the pandemic was "vital". 

HeraldScotland: NHS 24-LW

Scots are being urged in non-life-threatening situations to contact NHS 24 before attending Accident and Emergency or a Minor Injuries Unit.

Health Boards across the country are contending with extremely busy A&E departments and pressure has built on all services due to the impact of backlogs, staff absences and the surge of Covid in recent weeks. 

“We are experiencing the toughest winter our health and social care system has ever faced," Mr Yousaf said.

"With the current system pressures, and the ongoing impact of the pandemic, the role of NHS24 in giving support and advice to people who need it has never been more vital.

“I am extremely grateful for the contribution that NHS 24 staff have made during the pandemic, and particularly during these difficult winter months.

"I would urge everyone to make use of these services, by calling 111 or visiting NHS Inform when needed. Highly trained staff will be happy to give advice and direct you to the best place if you need treatment.

“This new call centre facility in Dundee will allow NHS 24 to further expand their capacity – helping more people and better managing capacity Throughout the rest of the healthcare system."

READ MORE: Scots doctors 'mentally exhausted' by workload impact of Covid absences

The Health Secretary said the Scottish Government has invested more than £20 million additional funding for NHS 24 this year for extra recruitment, and this new facility. 

NHS 24 Chief Executive Jim Miller said: “NHS 24 has played a crucial role in Scotland’s response to the pandemic and our expansion in Dundee will ensure we are enable to continue to provide high quality, safe and effective care to the public in the months and years ahead.

“Call handlers, nurses, psychological mental health practitioners and mental health nurses are already working in this key contact centre delivering care. I expect it to be at  full capacity by the end of March.”

The NHS 24 111 service provides urgent-care telephone advice day or night if you think you need A&E but it is not life-threatening, as well as support when GP practices or dentists are closed.

Mental health support is provided 24/7 via the Mental Health Hub and through Breathing Space at evenings and weekends and help and advice can also be found at NHS inform.