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Safety probe launched into NHS 111 Covid triage service

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Long delays for coronavirus patients to get through to NHS 111 call handlers while other seriously ill patients were told to stay at home have prompted a safety watchdog to launch an investigation of the phone triage service.

The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) has launched an inquiry into the handling of coronavirus calls by NHS 111 – the first port of call for patients when they become unwell.

During the pandemic the NHS 111 service set up a dedicated COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Service (CCAS) but concerns over the safety of advice given to patients saw nurses and non-medical staff stopped from taking patient calls in August last year.

Now concerns from a number of patients and families have led the independent HSIB to launch a review of the service and to identify any learning and improvements.

HSIB told The Independent the investigation was at an early stage and it was not yet certain of any direct link to patient harm.

It said the number of patient cases could grow but that it had initial family concerns related to difficulties getting through to NHS 111, long delays in getting clinical call backs after an initial triage call and concerns that some patients were told to stay at home when they were seriously ill.

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Source: The Independent, 23 March 2021

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