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Concerns over safety of NHS 111 line

26th March 2013

Concerns have been raised about the safety of the new NHS 111 telephone advice service, which is in the process of being piloted in England.

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Dr Laurence Buckman, the BMA's GP committee chair, said: "The Department of Health needs to reconsider immediately its launch of NHS 111 which clearly is not functioning properly. They must ensure that the system is safe for patients before it is rolled out any further." 

The 111 service is free and replaces NHS Direct. It is meant for people who are not a 999 emergency case, but who require quick medical treatment.

However, the BMA said it had received many reports of the advice line not working properly. Certain regions have been unable to deal with call volumes or have had IT problems, including a total system failure in Manchester which meant calls were not answered.

Dr Buckman said: "The BMA is seriously concerned that these failures are not only having impact on other, already overstretched NHS services, but potentially putting patient safety at risk. Patients need to have their calls answered immediately and correctly and not be faced with any form of delay." 

 

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