Between September and December NHS Direct had a 206% increase in calls related to colds, flu, cough and fever.
The tool at www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk uses the protocols deployed by NHS Direct's call centre nurses to assess patient symptoms over the telephone.
Anna Joshua, associate director of pharmacy at NHS Direct, said: ‘The tool helps with self-care and also helps to decide when professional advice is needed or if the condition is serious enough to seek urgent medical help.
‘The website advice will set out the options for self care - whether a visit to a pharmacy to speak to a pharmacist is needed, or whether it is best to contact a GP and if necessary it might prompt you to go to A&E.'
The system may also offer a call back from NHS Direct with the facility to arrange a specific call back from a nurse advisor.
This will be the first of many symptom checkers to be introduced by NHS Direct over the coming months.
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