"The operator seemed unsympathetic"

About: Harmoni / NHS 111

(as a service user),

I was diagnosed with flu in the week leading up to my needing to my needing to use the 111 service. By the end of the week my condition had deteriorated and by Saturday my chest sounded crackly. I phoned my GP to check if weekend services were available, but was referred to the 111 service.

I called 111 on Saturday morning and spoke to a male operator who took my details but not in as much detail as I feel he should have done. I was coughing but was no asked how persistent this was. I also had a high temperature but was not asked about this and as I was feeling so unwell it did not occur to me to mention this.

I was told that I should go to the St George's Hospital to be treated. I explained that I felt too unwell to do this as I did not feel I would cope with driving, car parking and getting page display tickets etc. Also that I was alone and therefore unable to get help from other people.

The operator seemed unsympathetic and was unable to offer alternatives to St George's, although he did suggest a Walk In Centre but could not tell me how far away this was. I feel that the operator should have asked far more questions to establish the seriousness of my condition.

In the end he did agree to send a doctor to see me, but warned me that he would mark the record to show that he did not think it was really necessary.

The GP who came to see me arrived very quickly and was fine, although my condition deteriorated further leading to Hospitalisation for 3 days.

I was very disappointed with the way in which the 111 Operator was off hand and dismissive, had no empathy regarding my condition and did not understand the logistical problems of travelling anywhere with such a nasty chest infection.

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Response from Simon Mills, NHS 111 Clinical Lead, NHS Wandsworth CCG

I'm really sorry to hear of your concerns regarding your contact with the NHS 111 service, and also that you ultimately became increasingly unwell and needed admission to hospital. The NHS 111 service uses a clinical assessment tool known as NHS Pathways, which has been been used to assess over 4.8 million calls from patients in need of urgent medical care or advice, without a single adverse incident when used correctly.

Some of the questions which you were expecting to be asked are not always necessary to direct patients to the most appropriate service for further assessment, as they do not make any difference to the outcome. The health advisors who answer the calls are highly trained in both the use of NHS Pathways, and in communication skills, so I'm sorry to hear that you felt the advisor unsympathetic, dismissive, and lacking empathy.

We would really like to look into your concerns further, so if you are a Wandsworth resident, and willing to share your contact details, please contact Wandsworth CCG's Customer Care Manager by email at wandsworth.pals@nhs.net. We can then, with your consent, look further into your comments. I hope you are now on the road to recovery.

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Response from Amanda Mayo, NHS 111 Service Director, Harmoni

Thank you for taking the time to post your experiences with NHS111 this weekend. In view of your posting I would be very grateful if you would give us the opportunity to look into the call you made.

If you are content with this please can you email your name, contact number, concerns and date you contacted the service to harmoni111.feedback@nhs.net. Thank you.

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