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NHS 111 line defended by medical bosses after missing caller waiting time targets
A controversial urgent medical helpline has been missing key targets for answering calls within a minute, a new report shows.
But health bosses insist Yorkshire’s NHS 111 line is getting better and is now one of the highest performing services in the country.
The NHS 111 line was rolled out last Easter as the new number to call for urgent but non-emergency care.
Staff are meant to answer at least 95 per cent of calls within a minute, but new figures show that in the Yorkshire region, this target had been missed three-quarters of the time.
The service only hit its target in two out of its first eight months, the data shows. In its first full month, April last year, one in ten callers were waiting more than a minute for their call to be answered.
NHS 111 is not a national service like its predecessor, NHS Direct. It is run under regional contracts and in Yorkshire and the Humber it is managed by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service.
Steve Page, executive director of standards and compliance at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, insisted the service was performing well.
He said: “Despite significant volumes over the winter and festive period, we exceeded the national target of answering 95 per cent of these calls within 60 seconds and throughout this busy period our NHS 111 service was one of the top performing in the country.
“We are confident that people contacting NHS 111 in our area receive a responsive, safe and appropriate service from us and remain focused on continuing to provide high-quality urgent care services to people across our region.”
The report on NHS 111 is going before Bradford Council’s Health and Social Care overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday.
It says: “Over the last few months significant improvements have been made and NHS 111 are much better at predicting likely demand as well as ensuring they have enough staff rostered during their busiest times.”
Nationally, the NHS 111 line suffered multiple teething problems at its inception. Patients had complained about poor advice being given, calls going unanswered and even calls being diverted to the wrong part of the country.
As a result, NHS England announced it would be investigating how the service was working.
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