Wait for callers to Nottinghamshire’s 111 service increases more than 10 times in five months

Callers to Nottinghamshire’s 111 helpline waited more than 10 times longer to access help last month than just five months previously, as health services nationally experienced their busiest month on record.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 6:00 am

NHS England data shows it took an average of 155 seconds, or about two-and-a-half minutes, for Nottinghamshire 111 helpline operators to answer calls from people seeking medical help in September – more than 10 times longer than April’s average of 15 seconds.

And of 35,422 calls made to the service, 8 per cent were abandoned before being answered.

This was higher than in April, when 1 per cent of 35,602 callers gave up before speaking to an operator, and above the NHS’s target of keeping abandoned calls under 3 per cent.

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NHS England data shows it took an average of 155 seconds, or about two-and-a-half minutes, for Nottinghamshire 111 helpline operators to answer calls from people seeking medical help in September

Of the calls answered by Nottinghamshire 111 helpline, 5,999 were recommended to attend primary care services, such as their GP, 2,432 were told to attend an emergency department, and for 2,037 callers an ambulance was called.

Across England, 1.9 million calls were made to 111 in September, but a quarter were abandoned.

The average waiting time was 557 seconds, about nine minutes.

Although April saw 14,500 fewer calls, the average waiting time was considerably lower, at 100 seconds, as was the rate of abandoned calls, at 7 per cent.

Dr Sarah Scobie, deputy director of research at health think tank the Nuffield Trust, said: “Increasing waiting times across the board are a result of the continued impact of the pandemic including staff absences.

“There were an average of more than 73,500 staff absent in the last week of September, and the increasing number of Covid hospitalisations we are seeing this autumn suggests a difficult winter ahead.”

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Record demand

NHS England said its 111 helpline saw record demand, taking a call every seven seconds.

An extra £23m has been given to the service to help meet increased call volume.

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “Despite the busiest September on record, NHS staff have moved heaven and earth to make the best possible use of additional investment, delivering millions more tests, checks, treatments and operations.

“That is why it is important people do not delay seeking help from the NHS if they feel unwell.

“Anyone needing help should come forward through 111 online so staff can help you with the best option.”

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