National Poisons Information Service

A service commissioned by Public Health England




Members of the public

seeking specific

information on poisons

should contact:


In England and Wales:

NHS 111 - dial 111


In Scotland:

NHS 24 - dial 111


In N Ireland:

Contact your local GP or

pharmacist during

normal hours; click here

(www.gpoutofhours for GP

services Out-of-Hours.


In Republic of Ireland:

01 809 2166



professionals seeking

poisons information

should consult:

Who we help - Patient and exposure profiles

A large proportion of telephone enquiries relate to children and young people (0-19 years) and, at the other end of the scale, to older people (over 60 years), reflecting the vulnerability of these two groups to poisoning.


In the younger age group, male and female patients are equally affected, while in the older age group more men than women are the subject of enquiries.


Overall across all enquiries, almost nine out of ten exposures (89%) happen in the home, with a small number occurring in agricultural and other workplaces, medical facilities and other locations. Over half (50.1%) involve accidental poisonings, while almost a quarter (21.5%) are deliberate, with 21% attributed to medication error and 3% to substance abuse.


Commonly alcohol is a problem in all age groups, involving accidental, recreational and intentional overdoses.  It is also often a complicating factor in many poisonings with other substances. Around 40% of aldults who poison themselves take alcohol at the same time.


NHS 111, NHS 24 and NHS Direct users exceeded hospital users as the type of user that telephoned the service the most in 2014/15. Around a quarter (over 14,000) involve children under 10, and a further 10% young people between 10 and 19 years. This reflects the frequency of accidental poisonings among young people.


| Who we help | Patient and exposure profiles | Information, advice and support | Young people and children | Older people | Pregnant mothers |