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More than half a million people called NHS 111 in June

The NHS 111 service introduced to deal with public concern and frustration in accessing NHS care, especially at weekends and out of hours. Credit: NHS

Over half a million people called the NHS 111 service in June, according to figures released by NHS England today.

In June there were 552,717 calls to the service with 94 per cent of people dialling 111 directly.

96 per cent of answered calls made to NHS 111 were answered within 60 seconds, with one per cent of calls abandoned after waiting more than 30 seconds.

The roll-out of the NHS 111 service in Bath, North East Somerset, and Wiltshire has also been delayed.


Cornish MP cautious over new NHS 111 contracts

Competitive tendering is creating a race to the bottom. The NHS needs to be reintegrated not further fragmented into multiple tendered contracts.

It would be idiotic to continue having separate contracts for the handling of ambulance, urgent care and out-of-hours GP services, whilst hospital emergency departments continue to struggle.

– Andrew George, Conservative MP for West Cornwall.

The NHS has been divvied up into business units under successive Governments. This has spawned a culture more concerned with 'working to contract' than working in the patient's best interests.

But it doesn't have to be like this. We should be pulling services back together rather than grinding on with this failed dogma."

– Andrew George, Conservative MP for West Cornwall.

NHS 111 provider Harmoni statement

You can read the company's full statement here.

NHS Undercover: Channel 4’s Dispatches programme claims that the NHS 111 service, including services provided by Harmoni from centres in Bristol and Dorking, leave patients waiting for calls and is understaffed.

But the programme doesn’t show a representative picture of how the NHS 111 service actually works or how it is performing, how quickly it responds to patients with a diverse range of needs or how it affects other urgent health care services.

Remember that the NHS 111 service is not an emergency service and doesn’t replace the 999 service.

Harmoni has given Channel 4 and Dispatches a detailed response to the concerns the programme broadcast, many of which were based on third hand comments and anecdotes, gathered over only a handful of days, without checking how the service was actually performing."

– Harmoni press office.

Statement from Devizes MP Claire Perry

The Channel 4 documentary revealed significant shortfalls in performance of the NHS 111 service for the Wiltshire area following the launch of the service earlier this year.

The programme showed evidence of poor staffing levels, poor training, and non-medical staff making judgement calls in the absence of clinical advisors.

The poor standards of service which have been delivered to patients needing non-emergency care across the Wiltshire region are wholly unacceptable.

NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have assured me that work is ongoing with Harmoni to address the areas which remain below standard. I have asked them for the specific actions they are implementing to resolve the problems and the expected dates for improvement.

Given the new commissioning arrangements that put GPs and patients at the heart of service decisions, we have an opportunity to sort out this service and make it robust for the future."

– Claire Perry, Conservative MP for Devizes.


Undercover investigation claims 111 'failing patients'

A call centre in Bristol, designed to handle non emergency NHS calls is failing patients, according to an undercover investigation.

Channel 4's Dispatches programme claim the 111 service, run by private healthcare company Harmoni, is sending out ambulances for the wrong reasons and not providing sufficient equipment or training for staff.

On Monday, NHS Direct pulled out of its main contracts of the 111 service, including one in Somerset.

Harmoni said their services are reviewed weekly to ensure safety.

The Conservative MP for Bristol North West Charlotte Leslie is a member of the Commons' Health Select Committee:

Statement on Somerset's withdrawal from 111

NHS Direct, which manages a third of England’s NHS 111 helpline services, has announced that it is to withdraw from its 111 contracts.

It will not affect the delivery of the 111 service in Somerset but it does means Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will have to find another provider.

I would like to reassure the people of Somerset that despite NHS Direct announcing that contractual difficulties have forced it to withdraw from providing the 111 service to Somerset, the service is continuing to operate as normally.

As an interim measure, we are holding talks with the South Western Ambulance Services NHS Foundation Trust with a view to ensuring the 111 service in Somerset continues to deliver a safe and prompt service.

In the coming months Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group will be preparing to go out to tender again to secure a new provider of its 111 service.

– Dr Ed Ford, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group’s GP Lead for 111
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