Half hour wait for medical advice line
Callers to Sunderland’s 111 helpline waited an average of over half an hour to get help last month as health services experienced their busiest month on record.
NHS England figures shows it took an average of 1,906 seconds – around 32 minutes – for North East 111 helpline operators to answer calls from people seeking medical help in September – over five times longer than the 336 seconds in April.
Of 105,723 calls made to the service, 54% were abandoned before being answered – well above the percentage in April, when 16% of 112,379 callers gave up before speaking to an operator.
Of the calls answered by North East 111 helpline, 15,657 were recommended to attend primary care services, such as their GP; 4,609 were told to attend an emergency department, and for 7,159 callers an ambulance was called.
Nationally, 1.9 million calls were made to 111 in September. A quarter of them were abandoned and the average waiting time around nine minutes.
NHS England said its 111 helpline has seen record demand, taking a call every seven seconds, with over 1.9 million calls across the month.
An extra £23m has been given to the service to help meet increased call volume.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “There is no doubt the NHS is running hot, with the highest ever number of patients seen in A&E in September, 14 times as many Covid patients in hospital compared to the same month last year, and record ambulance call-outs.”