NHS 111 is to blame for almost all of the last year’s rise in Accident & Emergency admissions, one of the country’s most senior medics has said.
Dr Cliff Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, said it was “absurd” to suggest patients were wrong to go to casualty units, when large numbers were being directed there by the telephone service.
Speaking at a session of the Commons health select committee on Wednesday, he said the NHS needed to change its systems so they work better for patients.
He told MPs that the 111 phoneline, which was supposed to help patients and relieve pressures on hospitals has had the opposite effect.
“The reason these people are attending these emergency departments is because we told them to,” he said.
“Of the 450,000 extra attendances in the system in the last year, 220,000 were advised by NHS 111 to come to the emergency department and another 220,000 had an ambulance despatched to them by NHS 111.
“If you put those figures together you have more than 95 per cent of the rise in type 1 [major A&E unit] attendances. I don’t think we should blame people for attending the emergency department when we’ve told them to go there. It’s absurd.”
Earlier this month, emergency medicine experts said that when nurses handled calls on the helpline’s predecessor, NHS Direct, they had the experience to know when an A&E visit was not appropriate.
It came as figures emerged showing that NHS 111 sends an extra 50 per cent more patients to A&E at the weekend, when GP surgeries and other clinics are shut – increasing the strain on already stretched hospitals.
The general idiocy of politicians planning a health care system, eh?