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Fears for patients as '111' calls abandoned - Government called to 'get a grip' on issue

A call to NHS 111 was abandoned every 10 seconds between 2020 and 2021, figures show. Millions of callers to the helpline hung up at a time when demand for the NHS was at its highest.

In 2020, 2,490,663 calls were abandoned, while in 2021 this figure increased to 3,531,186. And 1,174,159 gave up on the line from January to May this year. Callers in Devon take an average of 11 minutes to get through to the NHS 111 service, according to Liberal Democrat research.

Daisy Cooper, Lib Dem spokeswoman for health and social care, said: "Ambulance services are being stretched to breaking point, hospitals are reaching full capacity and now people cannot get through to NHS 111. We have called on this government time and time again to get a grip on this issue by recruiting more NHS 111 call handlers now."

"The longer they delay, the longer they are leaving people in pain and distress."

Helen Hughes, of the Patient Safety Learning charity, said: "These figures represent a serious safety concern. Each call is a potential missed opportunity for patients to receive timely medical advice that may prevent future harm."

"With the ongoing severe pressures faced by ambulance services and hospitals this summer, patients are increasingly being signposted to NHS 111 for advice on non-life threatening conditions."

"However, it can only relieve the pressure on other areas of the health service if NHS 111 has the capacity and resources to meet rising demand. The NHS leadership needs to urgently assess the reasons for this high number of abandoned calls."

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Source: Express, 31 July 2022


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