The NHS in Hertfordshire has taken steps to reassure people that the NHS 111 service is working well in the county and patients can be confident of a good quality service. Following reports about difficulties NHS 111 is encountering in some areas, health leaders have stressed that the service has not seen similar problems here.
The service was introduced in Hertfordshire in October 2012, as one of the pilots in England. The 111 number allows patients to access healthcare in an emergency that is not life-threatening. You can ring the 111 number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In Hertfordshire the service is provided by Herts Urgent Care, which provides the GP out-of-hours service.
When callers dial 111 they are put through to highly trained call handlers, supported by experienced nurses or paramedics. They will be clinically assessed and either given information or referred directly to the most appropriate service which can deal with their injury or illness. This may range from dentist, pharmacy, community service or out-of-hours GP.
Call handlers are dealing quickly and efficiently with the high volume of calls. In March, the service received 30,614 calls. Of those, 1,328 were referred to A&E (4.33%). A total of 5,418 (22 per cent) required a clinical advisor, indicating that 78 per cent of calls were dealt with by the call advisor. In April, the total number of calls rose to 34,025. Of these, 89 per cent were answered within 60 seconds.
Dr Vishen Ramkisson, Commissioning Clinical Lead for 111 at East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The 111 service is under scrutiny following reported difficulties in some area of the country. But we would like to reassure people that the Hertfordshire service is working very well and has not encountered the problems described in the national media. The local service is robust, well established and coping in a timely manner with all the demands placed upon it. I would like to take this opportunity to assure local people that 111 in Hertfordshire remains the number of choice for urgent and out of hours medical care”.