Up to a third of 111 calls are ditched by fed-up patients leading to fears A&E departments will be swamped by people who couldn’t get through on the phone
- More than a third of calls to 111 are being abandoned in parts of England
- Over a quarter of a million callers hung up before getting through to anyone
- It took callers in Devon an average of 11 minutes to get through to 111 service
- Those who give up are likely to pile pressure on A&E or by phoning 999
More than a third of calls to 111 are being abandoned in parts of England as patients get fed up waiting to get through.
Over a quarter of a million callers put their phone down before speaking to anyone about their medical issue in April, figures from NHS England reveal.
This is equivalent to more than one in seven (15 per cent) calls to the non-emergency service, rising to 35.8 per cent in Devon.
Those who give up are likely to pile pressure on other parts of the service by phoning 999 or turning up at A&Es.
Analysis by the Liberal Democrats showed it took callers in Devon an average of 11 minutes to get through to 111 – almost double the national average.
The NHS target is no more than 20 seconds.
The Daily Mail last week revealed some people are waiting over nine minutes to get through to a 999 call handler
Lib Dem spokesman Daisy Cooper called for an ’emergency recruitment drive’ of NHS 111 call handlers to bring waiting times down.
The Department of Health was approached for comment.
It comes after the Daily Mail last week revealed some people are waiting over nine minutes to get through to a 999 call handler when an ambulance should arrive on the scene of the most urgent calls within seven minutes.
Ambulances parked up outside the accident and emergency department of UHW, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.
Miss Cooper said: ‘At a time when it can take hours for an ambulance to arrive and GP appointments are hard to come by, it is deeply concerning that getting through to 111 is becoming so difficult.
‘Each abandoned call represents someone unable to access the medical advice they urgently need.
‘The government needs to get a handle on this issue by recruiting more 111 call handlers, especially in areas like Devon where waiting times are unacceptably long.
‘Failure to get these wait times under control risks piling even more pressure on our ambulance services, which are already stretched to breaking point, as desperate people struggling to get through turn to 999 instead.’