Ambulance Service Failed On 111 Handling

The South Western Ambulance Service Has Admitted It Failed To Perform As Well As Expected When Answering 111 Calls


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The chief executive of the South Western Ambulance Service has admitted the organisation failed to deliver the required performance level in handling 111 calls.

In one week alone, nearly 900 people who sought non-emergency advice in dealing with conditions abandoned their calls. All of these people resided in the Devon, Cornwall, Dorset or Somerset areas, reports the BBC.

Extra people have now been brought in to help boost the 111 service, but Ken Wenman, chief executive of the authority, admitted performance was not up to the expected standard and must improve in the coming weeks.

Mr Wenman added that the main cause of the failure was a lack of call advisors and clinical supervisors during weekends.

South Western Ambulance Service Trust has now pledged to speak with its members of staff in order to ensure that enough people are on hand at weekends to be able to take calls, although it is unclear if this will be possible with current workforce numbers.

Dave Beet, deputy director of service line strategy at South Western Ambulance Service Trust, commented: "During those peak times our resourcing levels were not quite where they needed to be.

"We've learned from that and we will go on and improve on that and make sure that quality service is there for every day of the week and for every hour of those days of the week as well."

This is not the first time the ambulance service has been under fire in recent days.

Earlier this week (April 22nd) a local council leader described ambulance services in the Cotswolds as "not fit for purpose".

Lynden Stowe, leader of Cotswold District Council, said the current system is not working.

But the South Western Ambulance Service Trust stated it is aware of the problems it faces in the area and is working to improve them in conjunction with local council leaders.

"There is an understanding in the rural areas that it will take that little bit longer to reach some emergency calls," Neil Le Chevelier, director of service delivery, told BBC News.

Expert Opinion
It is extremely worrying that many calls to the 111 number have not been dealt with as they should. Although it is a non-emergency phone number the callers obviously have a serious enough condition to want medical advice so it is crucial that solutions are found to ensure calls are dealt with promptly and adequate time is devoted to them.

“Patient safety should be the number one priority in both emergency and non-emergency situations. Resources are often cited as a problem in healthcare across the country in delivering services and it is important that all areas of the NHS are given the appropriate resources to be able to carry out their duties to the best of their ability.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner