NHS 111 sends too many people to accident and emergency departments because its computer algorithm is “too risk averse”, the country’s top emergency doctor has warned.
Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), said that December was the “worst ever” in A&E with 9 in 10 emergency care leaders reporting to the RCEM that patients were waiting more than 24 hours in their departments.
Asked what measures could help improve pressures in emergency care, Dr Boyle said more clinical input was needed in NHS 111 calls.
“In terms of how we manage people who could be looked after elsewhere, the key thing to do is to improve NHS 111,” Dr Boyle told MPs.
“There is a lack of clinical validation and a lack of clinical access within NHS 111 - 50 per cent of calls have some form of clinical input, there’s an awful lot which are just people following an algorithm.”
Dr Boyle added where clinical input is lacking “it necessarily becomes risk averse and sends too many people to their GP, ambulance or emergency department”.
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Source: The Telegraph, 24 January 2023
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