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Coronavirus: NHS patient triage hotline stops nurses handling calls over safety fears

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Nurses and non-medical staff have been stopped from taking patient calls to the NHS coronavirus helpline amid concerns over the safety of their advice.

An audit of calls to the telephone assessment service found more than half were potentially unsafe for patients, according to a leaked email shared with The Independent. At least one patient may have come to harm as a result of the way their assessment was handled.

The COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Service (CCAS) is a branch of the NHS 111 phone line and is designed to assess patients showing signs of coronavirus to determine whether they need to be taken to hospital or seen by a GP.

The helpline was set up at the start of the pandemic to divert patients with symptoms to a phone-based triage to relieve pressure on GPs and prevent them from turning up at surgeries and spreading the virus.

GPs, nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) such as paramedics and physiotherapists were recruited to speak to patients after they were flagged by NHS 111 call handlers.

The use of non-medical staff was first paused in July amid concerns about the quality of call handling. Now it has emerged much wider safety issues have surfaced.

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Source: The Independent, 18 August 2020

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