"Call centre operator response."

About: Kings College Dental Hospital / Dental medicine specialities NHS Direct NHS Trust / NHS 111

(as the patient),

I called NHS 111 at 9am over the weekend to get some help with an acute dental problem. The call centre operator was informed and polite in assessing my condition and informing me of my options. The final option being to call back NHS 111 around 7.20pm that night so that the operator could call King's College Dental Institute to secure an appointment on my behalf. I did follow these instructions and called at 7. 20pm. Unfortunately the operator wasn't able to get through and told me to call back in 7 minutes. This I did. Unfortunately the operator I spoke to on this occasion insisted on re-doing the assessment which I had already given twice. This operator decided that I didn't qualify for having him make the call for an appointment and told me to see a dentist within 3 days. I was in great pain and discomfort and aware that I needed urgent attention. I told him in no uncertain terms how I felt about his attitude.

I immediately called again and spoke to a woman who noted my previous calls and assessments. She called and made an appointment on my behalf at King's for 8. 30pm I was very grateful and when I saw the dentist she acknowledged that I had an acute gum infection and prescribed antibiotics. I was most pleased, eventually, but disturbed at how an operator with no medical training and seemingly a bad attitude effectively tried to deny me access to NHS services. It was only my insistence and state of pain that ensured that I received the attention I needed. I hope that the managers of NHS 111 monitor the operators to make sure they serve the patients properly.

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Response from Cathy Varley, PALS Manager, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

I am relieved to hear that the NHS 111 service finally offered you an appointment for emergency dental care and that you were directed to the Kings College Hospital site where the emergency out of hours service was being provided on Saturday. I will feedback your comments to the manager of the Emergency Dental Service (which is not directly managed by Kings College Hospital) so that she can review the decision making and referral arrangements with the NHS 111 service to ensure that patients are being appropriately assessed.

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Response from David Foord, Head of Clinical Governance, NHS Direct

Thank you for taking the time to provide this feedback, it is important to us to help us improve our services.

I am sorry that you had to make four calls to 111 before getting the appointment you needed and that some of these calls were not handled well. Your experienced does not fit with the quality of service we aim to provide and I am sincerely sorry for this. We will support the work of King’s College Hospital to review the decision making and referral arrangements and make any necessary changes following this.

I hope that your dental problem is now improving. We would like to look into your experience further and to identify the specific calls you made, so that we can learn more and take further action, specifically addressing your concern you mention about the attitude of one of our staff. In order to do this we need a little bit more information to identify your calls; please get in touch by e-mailing us with the date of your calls and your name and address to: cgt111.feedback@nhs.net

Once again I am sorry and thanks again for letting us know about your experience.

David Foord

Head of Clinical Governance

NHS Direct

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