NHS England is urging people to use its online service in a bid to reduce “record” demand on accident and emergency (A&E) departments.
The annual NHS 111 Online campaign launched on Thursday, reminding people they can use the service to get urgent healthcare online.
It can direct people to the most appropriate local treatment option, NHS England said.
People should still call 999 and go to A&E when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, it added.
It is estimated up to two fifths of A&E attendances are avoidable or could be better treated elsewhere, NHS England said.
Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director said: “Last month our hard-working staff contended with another record month of A&E attendances and the most serious ambulance callouts, which is only the tip of the iceberg of the growing pressures that the NHS is facing this winter, including the threat of a ‘twindemic’ of Covid and flu, and reduced hospital capacity caused by issues discharging patients into social care.
“This new campaign will remind the public that NHS 111 Online is available to signpost people to the best option for their care needs ahead of winter – it can provide the most appropriate local treatment option for medical issues quickly without needing to leave your home and saving you an unnecessary trip to A&E.
“It is vital that people continue to use A&E and call 999 in an emergency so as ever, please do come forward for the care you may need.”
NHS 111 Online asks people to enter their postcode, age, sex, and main symptom before asking a series of questions about their health concern.
It was the busiest ever October in A&E and for the most serious ambulance callouts, NHS England said.
More than 2.17 million patients attended A&E departments in England over this period, it added.
Ambulance services also responded to 83,986 calls, it said.