Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CWS CCG) admitted at their Governing Body meeting on Wednesday (April 10th) the new NHS 111 telephone service was not performing. Concerns were specifically expressed at the poor weekend service locally.
The NHS 111 service replaces the old NHS Direct number for urgent medical help or advice when it’s not a life threatening situation. Following national concerns the House of Commons Health Committee is investigating the performance of the service before the mid-July Parliament recess.
At the CWS CCG meeting held at St Pauls Centre in Chapel Road the local service was defended with the platitude all IT systems have teething problems. Lay member of the Governing Body Chris Moore responded this was not acceptable in the same way a bank would not accept teething problems with an ATM machine failing to pay out cash.
Mrs Janet Grange of Wiston Avenue, a qualified nurse with over 40 years NHS service, was shocked when she used the service last Saturday (April 6th) after her husband developed an acute pain in his ankle.
Mrs Grange said: “I rang 111 and waited 20 minutes hearing a recorded message every 15 seconds before giving up. The pain worsened and this morning (Sunday April 7th) I phoned again. The phone was eventually answered after 32 minutes (128 recorded messages later)- the woman obviously had no medical knowledge and asked a long list of largely irrelevant and repetitive questions, which would explain why it takes so long to get through in the first place.”
Yesterday (Friday April 12th) Mrs Grange added: “After I had finished speaking to the woman at 111 she advised us that a doctor would telephone us back within 2 hours. Nobody has ever called us back. Now that is shocking.”