A Powys health campaigner has sought assurances from Powys Teaching Health Board ahead of the switch-over to a new service for out of hours non-emergency calls.

The new 'streamlined' 111 service, which combines existing NHS Direct and GP out-of-hours call handling services, is being rolled out across Wales in 2018 with the Powys service due to go live in October.

County Councillor Joy Jones, who represents Newtown East at County Hall, offers a cautious welcome for the change but says it's important that staff on the new service understand the challenges of the area.

"I have raised concerns with Carol Shillabeer, chief executive of Powys Teaching Health Board, and she assures me that they are ready for the change and have put things in place to try to make sure that the roll out of 111 is a smooth as possible," she said.

"I just hope that the call handlers or triage staff are made fully aware of our area and the distances we travel to get to hospitals, and the lack of hospital in some areas. Also they need to be aware of the shortage of public transport. The last thing were need are people being advice to go to hospital as this will put added pressure on the hospitals and can also cause the ambulance service to struggle if their calls increase. "

The service has already been launched across England and across the border in Shropshire the reception has been largely positive.

"I personally haven’t heard of any major problem in Shropshire since the switch over to 111 so I hope that is the case here," added Cllr Jones.

"Powys has had a little longer to wait for the changeover, which in my opinion has been good for Powys as we have continued using our old out of hours number which is triaged by staff that are more aware of the area and the difficulties that we face getting out of hours medical help. "

A statement from Powys Teaching Health Board said they were working on the final measures to ensure a smooth transition to the new service in October.

"During August we are continuing with our readiness for the switch-over, and we expect to conclude our readiness assessment in early September," they said.

"Once that milestone has been passed we will launch a major publicity programme to let people know that 111 is coming, and that this will be their new number for reaching Shropdoc for GP Out of Hours services and for free 24-hour health information and advice.

"We will be building on the extensive experience already both in Shropshire and in other parts of Wales of the transition to the 111 telephone number.

"We look forward to working with Shropdoc and wider partners to ensure that there continues to be a good GP Out of Hours Service for Powys."