Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) works closely with Vocare Ltd, the organisation responsible for providing Somerset’s NHS 111 service, and the South Western Ambulance Services NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT). This includes holding regular meetings to review performance standards.
The NHS 111 telephone helpline operates within nationally set performance standards and these standards include criteria for the immediate transfer of a 111 call to the 999 ambulance service when indicated to do so. This is a safeguard to ensure that members of the public who might have called NHS 111 not realising they are experiencing a medical emergency, are passed immediately onto the 999 ambulance service without delay.
SWASFT have a feedback process from health professionals to Somerset’s 111 services, which includes an opportunity to review 111 call transfers and the accuracy of their categorisation. Somerset CCG ensures Vocare Ltd review these calls for the purpose of learning and service improvement.
Somerset CCG has received no information to date which would suggest that the NHS 111 service is inappropriately diverting calls to the 999 ambulance service.
However, we would be happy to look into any specific incidents which might have been brought to the attention of BBC Radio Somerset.
NHS 111 continues to be the telephone number members of the public should call should they become ill after their GP surgery has closed or if they have an urgent need for medical advice.
If anyone believes they are experiencing a life threatening emergency (eg, someone is having a heart attack, stroke, is unconscious, not breathing or had a severe loss of blood) they should always call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.