111 ‘clogging up casualty’
NHS helpline staff needlessly send hundreds of thousands of people a year to A&E, research suggests.
Nearly three quarters of patients sent by the NHS 111 service to emergency departments do not actually need hospital care, Cambridge University experts found.
The problem is the use of software to make decisions about how patients are dealt with, the researchers said. The sys- tem uses calculations that produce ‘risk averse’ advice, they said. They think this is putting extra pressure on A&E units at a time when hospitals are already overrun.
They looked at data in Cambridgeshire where a GP was asked to review decisions by call handlers to send patients to hospital. The doctor felt that only 00 out of 1, 7 needed A&E treatment while 09 needed no medical help at all.