NHS say 111 service in Northamptonshire is dealing with twice as many calls as planned

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Health bosses say the much-maligned 111 non-emergency number dealt with double the amount of calls anticipated in Northamptonshire in its first months of operation.

Figures released in August revealed the service had failed to meet national standards each month since it launched in March.

It is supposed to answer 95 per cent of calls within one minute, and the closest it had got to this figure was 93 per cent in June.

But NHS Nene said the service was continuing to improve, and was performing well as it was taking twice as many calls as its operational model was set up to deal with.

From April to July, 42,898 calls were made to the service, and a total of 39,864 were answered.

In April, 49 per cent of calls were answered within 60 seconds, which rose to 77 per cent in May and 93 per cent in June, and fell slightly to 85 per cent in July.

The figures were discussed at a presentation by NHS Nene to councillors on a health scrutiny committee at County Hall.

Dr Kamal Sood, the clinical lead for the 111 service in Northamptonshire, said: “We are very proud of what we have managed to do. It is nigh-on twice what the model had anticipated.

“The staff have responded to the challenge and have improved the service. I think they are doing a good job, but the winter will be the testing ground.”

Lisa Durrant, director of performance for NHS Nene, said: “We experienced teething problems due to staff shortages. The performance was not where we wanted it to be when we first took it on.

“We did pretty well from April to June, and we did well in July. We anticipate we are going to improve over the next month or two.

“It is safe to say there was significant criticism of the service. We know there is more to be done and we have increased the number of call handlers and nurses.”

In Northamptonshire the 111 service is run by Derbyshire Health United (DHU), a not-for-profit company set up in April 2007 after the merger of two Derbyshire companies set up by local GPs.

NHS 111 was launched in a limited number of regions in March 2013, ahead of its national launch the following month.

Before the launch, the British Medical Association was so concerned it wrote to the Secretary of State for Health requesting that it be postponed.