Ditch NHS 111, say practice managers

Almost 85% of practice managers want to revert to their previous out-of-hours arrangements following the chaotic roll out of NHS 111, a survey suggests.

NHS 111: practice managers not convinced of its benefits
NHS 111: practice managers not convinced of its benefits

The poll, carried out by Premier Patient Line, a firm selling practice phone systems, found 79% of managers believed the new phone triage system to be worse than their previous arrangements.

More than 95% said patient satisfaction had not increased since the launch of NHS 111, which rolled out nationally in April.

Nick Stansfield, managing director of Premier Patient Line, said: 'These results clearly underline the poor state of the NHS 111 service and the problems it has caused for GP surgeries all over Britain.'

Earlier this month a damning NHS England report into failings with NHS 111 found local commissioners lacked necessary skills and tried to cut costs, providers lacked capacity and capability, and NHS England failed to provide proper central oversight and support.

Last week the House of Commons health committee found the service had, rather than ease the burden on emergency departments, increased demand.

NHS 111, the MPs’ report said, was rolled out ‘prematurely and without a sufficiently sound evidence base’.

The committee expressed concern that NHS 111 ‘did not apply the principle of seeking early engagement by a senior clinician, with the result that many calls took longer than necessary and some patients were advised to attend A&E but did not, in the event, need to be there’.

Meanwhile, the Channel Four programme, Dispatches, will this show evidence of patients left waiting, concerns about training, and staff shortages, filmed by undercover reporters posing as call handlers.

The programme, which features GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden, was told of ambulances dispatched when a patient rang in with a cold and another with a hangover. While working in the Bristol call centre, one of the undercover reporters was told that an ambulance had been sent for someone with 'a cat scratch'.

The Dispatches programme, NHS Undercover, will be broadcast today at 8pm.

Premier Patient Line said 301 practice managers responded to its survey.

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