"NHS 111 for out-of-hours GP cover in Coventry"

About: NHS Direct NHS Trust / NHS 111

(as a relative),

I had occasion twice yesterday (Saturday) to call the new 111 number as a replacement for after-hours cover for our GP's surgery: my wife was ill with vomiting and a high temperature. The first call (about 8. 30am) was really reassuring: it was answered promptly, someone asked lots of questions, and arranged for a nurse to call me back.

When I said our phone has anonymous call blocking, she said that wasn't a problem because they use phones which don't withhold the number. I got a call within a few minutes from a locally based (Coventry) guy who double-checked the symptoms and said he'd get the doctor to call and see her but to call back if her condition worsened in the meantime. The doctor called as promised, did a thorough examination and prescribed some antibiotics. As a first experience of using 111, it couldn't really have been better.

However, by the evening my wife had become feverish and delirious, vomiting bile and running an even higher temperature. So I rang 111 again about 11. 15pm and this time my experience couldn't have been more different. There was a long wait listening to music before anyone was free to answer, and when I explained the problem, she started the questioning from scratch: she didn't seem to have access to the records of what had happened earlier in the day.

This time I got transferred to a nurse after being put on hold for a few more minutes: I was offered an ambulance being called but when it transpired they wouldn't be able to do anything except take my wife to hospital, we agreed that the out-of-hours doctor service would call me back "within the hour". I again mentioned the anonymous call blocking.

The phone rang just after midnight, then stopped. When I checked, someone had tried to leave a message but had managed to say only "a message for [my wife's name]" I dialled the caller's number which was 07887 740920 and on the fourth try someone answered and rudely told me off for ringing a private number. He went on to say that after three attempts at ringing they "close the call" and I'd have to try calling 111 again. His response to my protest that I'd already mentioned the anonymous call block was "They're in London - they don't know what we do up here in the Midlands" and asked me why I had the block in place. He reluctantly agreed to put me back in the queue for a call "within the hour": it turned out to be an hour and a quarter before a doctor with a Birmingham accent rang (using that same number to make the call). Fortunately the advice I was then given was sound and I'm pleased to say that my wife is showing a marked improvement today.

However the standard of service on that second occasion leaves an awful lot to be desired and the guy who answered the phone when I rang back was in my opinion thoroughly unprofessional and most querulous and unhelpful.

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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 it has taken until now for me to respond; the kind people at Patient Opinion have only recently mapped feedback posted here on our NHS 111 services to our NHS Direct profile to allow me to do this.

It sounds like you had a good experience of your first 111 call including the follow-up from the doctor. I am sorry that your second call was not the same. Your description of what you experienced does not fit with the quality of service we aim to provide and I am sincerely sorry for this. It would be good if we could explore your experience further, including any calls you made or received so that we can learn more and take any further improvement action necessary.

If you want us to look at this further, do get in touch by e-mailing us with the date and approximate time of your calls and your wife’s name and address to WM111Arden.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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