AMBULANCE bosses are claiming a phone service launched a year ago has been a resounding success despite continued increases in A&E attendances.
The NHS111, run by West Midlands Ambulance Service, started last November with the aim of lowering unnecessary visits to hospital.
There have been a total of 110,218 calls triaged from across Worcestershire – with 52,226 in South Worcestershire, 32,739 in Redditch and Bromsgrove, and 25,253 in Wyre Forest.
Of the patients triaged, 8,328 were advised to attend A&E which amounts to 7.5 per cent.
An ambulance spokesman said: “The remainder therefore were either advised to attend alternative healthcare services, given self-care advice or in potentially life-threatening situations sent an ambulance.
“An additional screening process was put in place at the beginning of last week to help further ensure that only appropriate cases are being sent to A&E.”
Across the region there were around 850,000 calls but only 758,623 of these were triaged – as sometimes callers put the phone down instantly if they realised they had called a wrong number, or just asked one question before ending the call.
This week service bosses said in Worcestershire 93.9 per cent of respondents to a patient survey said they were satisfied with the service and 90.2 per cent were likely to recommend it.
Across the whole of the Midlands, 91.3 per cent were satisfied with the service and 88.8 per cent would recommend it.
NHS111 director Daren Fradgley said a ‘considerable amount of work’ had gone into stabilising and developing the service.
“We are proud of what we achieved during the last year but we will not be resting on our laurels. We will continue to improve the service we offer to ensure it is the best it possibly can be and patients continue to receive the highest possible level of care.”
In May, the Observer reported the ambulance service had been forced to rebuke claims the introduction had actually resulted in more people turning up at the county’s hospitals.
Stewart Messer, chief operating officer at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, had said they were unable to find another reason to explain the rise but were monitoring how people were getting to A&E to fully determine if 111 was the problem.
This week, he told the Observer after an unexpected spike in attendances from November 2013 to March 2014, they had continued to see a steady increase of patients.
“This increase in the culmination of a variety of factors including an ageing population and an increasing complexity of conditions that our patients need treating. It is not solely attributable to one factor.”