"NHS 111"

About: North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust

(as a carer),

I was directed to NHS 111 to arrange an emergency dental appointment for my father who is 76 years old, hard of hearing and has dementia. He had a broken tooth and the pain had become increasingly worse. For various reasons he was not registered with a local dentist. I tried calling various numbers who all redirected to NHS 111.

I made the call and selected option 4 on the telephone menu for dental care.

When I spoke to the call handler, I was asked if I was with the person who required the appointment. I wasn't, I was at home as I have other commitments (Not only am I a carer, I am a full time working mother).

The call handler would not proceed with the call as:

a) I wasn't physically stood next to my father

b) He wanted to speak to my father

None of which were possible.

I needed an urgent dental appointment for my father to have a tooth removed. I was asked if I could 'just drive over there and give them a call back'. I couldn't. The call handler informed me I would need to be stood next to him so I could tell them if he was breathing and feel his chest to tell them if he was hot or cold. I tried to explain that apart from the toothache he was ok, and simply needed an appointment to have the broken tooth removed. In fact I did ask if NHS 111 was the correct place to do this (the call handler agreed that indeed it is the way to get an appointment). My father could not make the call himself and I couldn't get to him that night. I was still told to call back when I am physically stood in the same room. I simply needed to get an urgent appointment for over the weekend (as I had been advised to do) and I did manage to do this after 35 phone calls to various places, without the help of NHS 111.

While I appreciate that NHS 111 call handlers have to follow a list of questions, this service should be accessible to all, regardless of their situation. Therefore I wonder if NHS111 could consider how they manage people in these situations. When a carer calls on someone's behalf to make an urgent appointment for dental treatment, they cant always be in the same room as the person requiring the appointment. Perhaps NHS111 isn't the best place to manage urgent dental appointments or perhaps there needs to be some kind of system whereby staff can make appointments via carers even if the the caller and carer are not stood in the same room. Maybe NHS111 do offer this, and maybe I simply had a different experience

I found the whole process difficult to navigate and so I wonder how people without an advocate are able to do this?

On the up side, when we did eventually get to the dentist appointment, the staff were fabulous!

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