Surge in abandoned 111 calls

The extent of the new NHS non-emergency advice line's problems have been highlighted by a rise in abandoned calls. The number of people who hung up after waiting for more than 30 seconds increased to 29,100 in March, according to NHS figures.

Latest ITV News reports

Surge in abandoned calls to NHS helpline 111

The extent of the new NHS non-emergency advice line's teething problems have been highlighted by a stark rise in abandoned calls.

The number of people who hung up after waiting for more than 30 seconds increased from 6,976 in February to 29,100 in March, according to NHS England figures.

And the average call length also increased from 14.19 minutes in February to almost 18 minutes in March. However, the number of calls to the line increased by more than half a million between the same time-frame.

Last week, leading doctors warned that the "problematic" roll-out of the NHS 111 advice line has left patients not knowing where to turn to for help.

Minister acknowledges NHS 111 'teething problems'

A Government Minister has acknowledged the "teething problems" with the new NHS 111 non-emergency helpline.

Care Minister Norman Lamb told ITV News it is a priority that the system is fixed.

The latest figures released show many more people in parts of England are being kept waiting for longer, and more callers are giving up altogether.

ITV News Correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports:

Read: NHS 111 service puts pressure on A&E departments.

Advertisement

NHS England: Majority of 111 services 'satisfactory'

The data published today on the performance of NHS 111 in March 2013 showed a satisfactory NHS 111 service is now operating in most of the country.

The majority of NHS 111 services in England are now meeting the performance standards, though some providers continue to fail to meet the standards set especially at weekends.

Where providers are failing to meet standards, NHS England is working with local CCGs who took over the commissioning of the NHS 111 service on 1 April 2013 to ensure these providers have plans in place to improve and meet the required standards.

Our focus continues to be on making sure that providers of services in problem areas meet the terms of their action plans to boost performance for our patients.

– NHS England

Read: Latest NHS 111 helpline figures up to March

BMA: NHS 111 helpline 'putting patients lives at risk'

Dr John Hughes from the British Medical Association has said the NHS 111 helpline is putting patients lives at risks because of the way it is currently set up.

He told ITV News: "It's under-resourced and it doesn't have clinically trained staff handling the calls.

"They are using a computer programme to reach a diagnosis which hasn't in my opinion or that of any other doctors been adequately tested yet", he added.

NHS 111 helpline 'struggling', according to figures

The new NHS 111 non-emergency helpline in England is struggling to manage the increase in the volume of calls it receives, according to new figures.

Between February and March as the service was rolled out in more areas, the number of callers getting through to an operator within a minute fell from 90 percent to 84 percent.

Eight percent of callers abandoned their calls after 30 seconds, more than double the previous month.

And, the number of calls being dealt with by a clinical staff member fell from almost a third to 21 percent.

Advertisement

Latest NHS 111 helpline figures up to March

The latest call statistics for calls to the NHS 111 service have been released by NHS England for the 22 sites providing the service and able to provide date at this time.

The main findings up to and including March were:

  • In March, there were 360,526 calls to the 111 service, with 89% of these calls from people directly dialling 111.
  • 84% of answered calls made to NHS111 were answered within 60 seconds. Of all calls offered 8% were abandoned after waiting longer than 30 seconds.
  • Average length of a call was 11 minutes 26 seconds
  • On average 21% of call time was handled by clinical staff for all calls up to and including March. Up to February it was 29%.
  • 92% of callers were said to be very or fairly satisfied with their NHS 111 experience.

NHS 111 service 'designed to be cautious'

On the day that ITV News uncovered claims that the NHS 111 helpline is pushing some A&E departments "to breaking point", the NHS has outlined new plans to help them cope with rising patient numbers.

Prof Keith Willett, the National Director for Acute Episodes of Care for NHS England, told ITV News the 111 service is "designed to be cautious".

Prof Willett said it offers an opportunity for patients to be able to get the help and advice they need "without going to A&E".

Load more updates