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NHS Direct pulls out of Cornish NHS 111 helpline

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

NHS Direct has pulled out of their contract to manage the emergency service phone-line in Cornwall due to being ‘financially unstable’. Expected to start in the Duchy in May, concerns were raised regarding the quality of the service, and was therefore delayed.

  • NHS 111 is a free service for people in urgent, but not life threatening, medical conditions
  • NHS 111 is for those seeking fast medical advice, but do not require an emergency 999 response
  • NHS 111 offers basic medical advice and can also give guidance regarding the most appropriate service for the caller’s needs ie) GP out-of-hours/A&E
  • NHS 111’s staff are all trained medical advisers

NHS 111 is the replacement service for NHS Direct: a phone line available to people who seek urgent medical advice, but do not have life-threatening symptoms. Since its rollout in April, where it began to operate in other parts of the country, it has shown to have many problems. Claims have been made by thousands of people all over England, saying that they have been unable to get through to the new NHS 111 helpline. Not only this, but due to the high demand, claims have been made regarding poor advice from the phone-operating staff. Inappropriate referrals by 111 staff have put quite a significant strain on hospitals and ambulances.

Currently, the helpline in Cornwall is being run by a handful of organisations – including private firms and ambulance trusts. NHS Direct has also put the delay down to wanting to “learn from the issues in other parts of the country” – suggesting that even NHS Direct has recognised flaws in the 111 service.

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