NHS 24 is marking its 15th Anniversary as figures reveal the service has taken more than 20 million calls from the public since it opened in 2002.

The new statistics also show 2009/10 as being the busiest year when the service received more than 1.5 million calls.

This was the year that the H1N1 swine flu virus affected the population and NHS 24 was asked to quickly establish a Scottish Flu Response Centre.

The busiest month was December 2004, when NHS 24 took more than 170,000 calls.

And the busiest recorded day was on December 27, 2004, when the service took more than 17,500 calls – an average of 12 calls answered per minute.

The service takes around 1.5m calls per year with peak demand at weekends, when it answers an average of 14,500 calls.

NHS 24’s Medical Director, Professor George Crooks said:As well as being a single point of contact for the people of Scotland when their GP surgery is closed, we also provide a range of services online that are designed to help people get the information and advice they need if they fall ill during the out of hours period.

“Across our developing digital services, we deal with nearly three million interactions each year.

“The range of services provided by NHS 24 are now available across a growing variety of channels such as telephone, webchat, email, social media and SMS, supporting people to self-manage and keep well at home.

“As we celebrate our achievements in this landmark year, it is clear that our success is down to all the hard work and commitment shown by staff, from our call handlers who are often the first point of contact for people calling the service, to our nurses.

“Without their dedication we wouldn’t be where we are today. We have more than 120 people across the country who have been with us since that first year and we look forward to continuing to develop our services as we move ahead into the next 15 years.