Dr Sue Roberts from Somerset LMCs said that the NHS 111 service had failed to be as ‘fast, easy and cheap’ as claimed by politicians.
‘It isn’t fast, isn’t easy, and lots of money is spent on this service that should be scrapped,’ she said. ‘The trained advisors are non-clinical, and use an adopted clinical support system which results in a risk-averse triage system.’
GP appointments and A&E visits were up as a result of poor advice from the scheme, and self-care had dropped, she said.
Patients reported that they ‘didn’t need an ambulance but NHS 111 sent one anyway’.
Barrier to care
Dr Fay Wilson from the GPC said that NHS 111 was akin to communism in that it was a ‘great idea but disappointing in practice’.
Despite GPs losing funding that was redirected to NHS 111, they spend as much time dealing with queries and checking patient information because of these calls, she said.
‘It is a barrier to patients and their care, and a terrible lost opportunity,’ Dr Wilson added.
Dr Roberts argued for a local service to be commissioned to replace NHS 111, but this was roundly rejected by GPs.
To cheers from the audience, Dr Sian Whyte from Buckinghamshire LMC said that any other proposed form of NHS 111 should be ‘strangled at birth’ and the funding should be redirected to grassroots GPs and other out-of-hours providers.
GPs voted to scrap NHS 111 in its present form, and voted against it being re-commissioned as a local service.