NHS 111 sent almost 2,000 people to A&E in Dorset last month

NHS 111 sent almost 2,000 people to A&E in Dorset last month

Published by George Sharpe at 1:21pm 20th January 2020. (Updated at 1:31pm 20th January 2020)

Almost 2,000 people were sent to A&E in Dorset by the NHS 111 helpline in December, figures reveal.

NHS England data shows the Dorset 111 line recommended 1,812 A&E visits in December 2019, accounting for 9.3% of the calls assessed at the centre.

An ambulance was sent for 13.9% of the 19,600 calls assessed in Dorset in December, while advisers referred 58.3% to primary care, such as GP surgeries, pharmacies and dentists.

NHS stats

NHS 111

NHS 111 is a 24-hour helpline for patients seeking non-urgent medical help, which replaced NHS Direct and some GP out-of-hours services in 2014.

Callers answer questions about their symptoms, asked by an adviser who can refer them to appropriate services for their condition.

There was no previous data for Dorset, but across England, more than 120,000 callers to the 111 helpline were referred to A&E in December – more than in any other month since records began in 2010.

elderly person with mobile phone

Trips to emergency departments were the recommendation in 8.6% of calls, the highest proportion for any December since 2010.

Sarah Scobie, deputy director of research at the Nuffield Trust, said the findings underlined the pressure on the NHS.

“Not only are there significant numbers of people turning up to A&E – more than 2.1 million people attended A&E in December - but more people than in previous years are also deemed ill enough to have to be admitted into hospital,” she added.

“By far the most common service NHS 111 sends people to is general practice, but we know that this is another bit of the system that is under immense pressure.

“It is going to take time and money and, crucially, staff for this pressure to ease in the long run.”

An NHS spokesman said:

“Like their colleagues in A&E, NHS 111 teams had their busiest month on record in December as the public’s trust in the service continues to grow, so it’s no surprise that more and more people with serious health needs are using it as their first port of call for advice.

“Three in 10 people who use the service would have gone to A&E for their urgent care needs had it not been available, so actually over the last 12 months it has spared 2.8 million unnecessary trips to hospital.”