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03.03.20

NHS to invest £1.7m in dedicated helpline to tackle coronavirus

Health leaders are investing an extra £1.7m in the NHS non-emergency helpline to offer more clinical advice about coronavirus.

NHS England has also put a new NHS 111 online service in place after a surge in inquiries about the virus. More than 35,000 people used the site in a single day over the weekend to get help and advice.
The extra £1.7m will be invested in providing more clinical advice over the phone, with further funding aiming to provide 500 additional initial call responders with the capacity to answer around 20,000 more calls every day.

Additional investment will free up clinical call handlers’ time to be able to prioritise callers with symptoms, according to NHS England. Investment will increase should demand continue to rise.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “NHS staff are working round the clock to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We know that 111 has come under pressure as people have understandably turned to the service for help, support and advice which is why we are ploughing in funding to increase staff available to field calls.

“The public is also now benefiting from the new NHS 111 online service which is helping increase capacity and free up clinicians’ time by offering specific help and advice on coronavirus at the touch of a button and has already had more than 70,000 hits since launched on Wednesday.

“I would like to say a personal thank-you to all those NHS staff who are doing an incredible job caring for patients, testing thousands of worried people and taking calls from thousands more.”

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