111 line 'puts patients at risk'

The British Medical Association has called on the NHS to delay Monday's launch of the new non-emergency 111 service in England, saying the waiting times and quality of advice are putting patients' safety at risk.

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What is the NHS 111 service?

  • For urgent medical help calls but not a life-threatening 999 emergencies
  • Unlike 999, the service only offers access to health services, with the police operating on their own 101 non-emergency helpline
  • 111 operators are able to dispatch ambulances when appropriate
  • Replaces the services provided by NHS Direct, which will end in June

BMA: NHS 111 is being introduced 'too quickly'

The British Medical Association has warned that the NHS non emergency 111 number is being introduced to the public "too quickly".

Speaking to Daybreak, Laurence Buckman from the BMA said: "If you're not going to [run the service] properly, you don't have doctors and nurses at the centre of it, it won't work."

He added: "It's going to be dangerous, and somebody somewhere is going to be harmed as a result."

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'Widespread' problems with NHS 111 line

The British Medical Association criticised the new telephone triage system NHS 111 for crashing in certain parts of the country - as well as the quality of advice on offer.

There have been widespread reports of patients being unable to get through to an operator or waiting hours before getting a call back with the health information they have requested.

In some areas, such as Greater Manchester, NHS 111 effectively crashed because it was unable to cope with the number of calls it was receiving.

The quality of advice being given out has also been questionable in some instances.

– Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the the BMA's GP committee

GPs say NHS 111 will put patient safety at risk

Health experts have asked Sir David Nicholson to delay the launch of the new telephone triage system NHS 111, as they say the crisis affecting the system will put patient safety at risk.

The phone number, designed to direct people with non threatening conditions to the right part of the NHS, will be launched nationwide on Monday.

BMA warns that the NHS 111 number is not yet ready to be launched Credit: Dave Cheskin/PA Wire

But the British Medical Association said problems had occurred during the trialling of the number.

They added that in some areas, switchboards could not cope with the volume of calls, which had also been affected by severe IT failures.

In a statement, the NHS said: "We are confident that measures now in place will ensure resolution of these early problems."

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