30,000 a week using NHS help service

Over 30,000 people a week in the North East are using the NHS 111 service and taking pressure off hard-pressed emergency units, new figures show.

Over 30,000 a week using NHS 111.
Over 30,000 a week using NHS 111.

NHS England figures show patients called the North East 111 helpline 33,286 times in the week to December 11 – up by 45% on the 23,015 calls the previous week.

Of these, 16,733 (50%) were answered, while 2,301 were answered within 60 seconds – but 44% of calls were abandoned by patients.

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Across the country, 49% were abandoned or answered calls.

In England, a total of 706,129 calls were made during the week, up 60% on the 440,047 made the previous week, and the highest on record aside from two weeks in March 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

NHS England and the Department for Health and Social Care have been urging people to use online 111 services for non-emergencies to ensure they receive the care they need during the festive period.

Prof Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said the huge increase is "understandable with concerns about winter viruses.”

He added: "It is more important than ever that the public uses 111 online where possible to get important information about non-emergency health conditions and to be signposted to the best possible care."

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: "NHS 111 online is a vital service that can offer patients the right advice as quickly and conveniently as possible – helping reduce pressure on our busy A&E departments.

"The coming weeks and months will be challenging, so it is essential people know the services available to them, to help access the treatment they need.”