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26.04.13

Patient safety concerns with NHS 111

NHS 111 has been withdrawn in Worcestershire due to concerns about patient safety. The new number has faced criticism since it was launched as a trial last month.

Patients have had difficulty getting through or were left on hold for hours. Doctors raised concerns that the IT systems were not fit for purpose and there were not enough staff employed to deal with the calls.

The county has now reverted to the former NHS Direct number and the project team is working to correct operational and technical issues.

Peter Pinfield, chairman of Healthwatch Worcestershire, said the system was “simply not ready”, despite assurances made to the body in January.

He said: “When people started ringing, there was too much demand, they couldn't answer some of the queries and some of the technology didn't work.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive & general secretary of the RCN, voiced “serious patient safety concerns about NHS 111” and said: “Since the launch of NHS 111 a number of worrying problems have come to light which have not only compromised patient safety, but have piled pressure on already over-stretched emergency departments.

“If NHS 111 is to continue without the support of NHS Direct it must be a nationally commissioned service which is led by properly trained nurses, rather than the current fragmented model which is damaging for patients, staff and the health service as a whole.”

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