THE department of health last night unveiled a non-emergency alternative to 999 for the thousands of people who call in everyday to say their leg feels funny.
The 111 number, chosen to match the numeracy level of its most likely users, will be manned by professional operatives who will use small words to explain why no-one is going to come to your house because your knee is making that weird clicky noise again.
Martin Bishop, an ambulance dispatcher from Knutsford, said: "It's very simple. If you're well enough to list your symptoms, you don't need an ambulance.
"Call back when you're unconscious, or can see a bright light at the end of a long tunnel."
Officials stress the 111 service is not designed to replace NHS Direct and its key function of keeping you on hold for an hour before telling you to go to your GP.
However the new service will offer a range of ringtones, hangover cures and will even advise on the nearest cock and fanny clinic to your postcode.
If successful, GP provision could be similarly overhauled, with surgeries replaced by a vending machine dispensing tamiflu, anti-depressants and contraceptive pills and a mechanical arm that pats patients on the head while saying 'there, there, that must be awful' in a soothingly robotic voice.
Holly Turnbull, 23, from Carlisle said: "I really hurt my finger yesterday. I would have called an ambulance but I couldn't dial because, like I say, I really hurt my finger."