Ebola advice from NHS 111 must be 100% accurate, warns GPC

Advice given to potential Ebola patients by NHS 111 must be '100% correct' if the service is to be used to assess whether callers may have the disease, GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul has warned.

Ebola: warning over NHS 111 advice (Photo: Science Photo Library)

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced earlier this week that the non-emergency 111 phone line would be used to triage possible Ebola cases.

Mr Hunt said callers reporting possible Ebola symptoms such as vomiting or respiratory problems would be asked about their travel history, and those who had visited an affected country would be assessed by ambulance staff using protective equipment.

But Dr Nagpaul said the GPC would want to be assured that advice from call handlers was fit for purpose to ensure that patients were given correct advice.

‘The last thing we want is for callers to NHS 111 not to be given correct advice and then visit their GP or A&E inappropriately,’ he said.

Advice must be accurate

‘We have had issues with NHS 111 before and we would want to be absolutely certain that any advice was 100% correct before it becomes any sort of default provider of advice.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt also told the House of Commons on Tuesday that GP receptionists and hospitals will receive advice on how to treat suspected Ebola cases, but he made no mention of general practice clinical staff.

Public Health England (PHE) issued primary care advice in August via area teams for patients who had travelled to Ebola virus areas within the previous 21 days.

On its website, the BMA says the PHE guidance is ‘inappropriate for general practice, as there should be no physical contact with the patient at all’.

But Dr Nagpaul said the BMA’s own adaptation of the PHE guidance was simply intended to make it clearer for GPs and practice staff.

The BMA’s own steps for practices to follow, adapted from the PHE guidance, instruct GPs to isolate the patient and call 999 if there is a history of symptoms suggestive of fever, if viral hemorrhagic fever is suspected.

Ebola advice

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

Young doctor

BMA poll could see 'demeaning' junior doctor title ditched

The BMA could drop the term 'junior doctor' in favour of 'resident doctor' to better...

Houses of parliament

Tory peer calls PA fears 'Luddism' and claims most GP visits 'incredibly straightforward'

Most GP appointments are 'incredibly straightforward' and fears over a wider role...

UK money

NHS pension contribution overhaul to go ahead from April

Changes to NHS pension contribution rates, which will see the top earners required...

BMA sign

BMA warns £800m lost from GP contract since 2019 as last-ditch talks continue

BMA negotiators remain in talks over an improved GP contract offer for 2024/25 just...

GP consultation

GPs still under pressure to prescribe black triangle drug inclisiran

GPs are continuing to face pressure to prescribe the black triangle drug inclisiran...

BMA chair Professor Phil Banfield

Lords urged to block legislation for GMC to regulate PAs

The BMA has urged peers to block legislation that would make the GMC responsible...