NHS 111 is working well in Hertfordshire
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 ensures that patients access healthcare when they need help urgently but it is not a 999 life-threatening emergency. 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 also 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 in Hertfordshire are dealing quickly and efficiently with the high volume of calls the service receives. Between October 2012 (when the service started) and the end of June 2013, the service received more than 218,000 calls. In the same time it has received only 57 complaints (0.02%).
Dr Vishen Ramkisson – who is clinical lead for NHS 111 in Hertfordshire as well as being a GP in the county – said, “It is a great shame that the NHS 111 service has received some poor publicity in the national media. The Hertfordshire service is working very well and has not encountered the problems described elsewhere.
“In Hertfordshire the 111 service is provided by Herts Urgent Care, the organisation that also provides the GP out of hours service when your surgery is closed. This means that both services are integrated and that patients have only one number to ring if they need advice about which service is the right one to meet their health needs - whatever the time of day or night.
“I would like to take this opportunity to reassure people in Hertfordshire that their 111 service will respond to their calls in a timely and professional manner”.