My personal experience with the NHS non-emergency 111 telephone number seems to mirror what has been going on across the county.
Having been drilled not to just turn up at a hospital accident and emergency department, when my four-year-old daughter needed medical attention I called 111.
After several minutes the call was answered and I gave a description of my concerns.
I was informed that a doctor would call me back, so I waited.
And waited. And waited.
I called back to find out when I could expect a call, and was told that it would be soon.
In the meantime, I decided to take my daughter to KGH’s accident and emergency department.
Her condition was far from life-threatening, but I was not prepared to wait for an unspecified period of time only to be told to attend a surgery and GP, who was then likely to send us to casualty anyway.
We did eventually get a call back from the 111 service, but we had made our decision by then.
Our experience is by no means unique and by no means the worst example I have heard.
The service simply needs to improve, and now.
Not only would it ease the concerns of patients, but it would also ease the pressure on already over-stretched accident and emergency departments at our local hospitals.
Neil Pickford, Editor