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NHS 111 fielding calls about stubbed toes and itches

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Broken nails, blocked noses and hair loss have prompted hundreds of calls to the NHS 111 non-emergency helpline.

Other reasons for using the service include sunburn, stubbed toes, snake bites and electric shocks, the health service said.

“NHS 111 is helping the NHS deal with growing demand by directing people to the most appropriate place for their injury or illness”

Jeremy Hunt

Unusual or everyday issues have contributed to a doubling of calls to 111, with operators now dealing with almost one million every month.

There were 90 calls about a broken nail, 224 about a blocked nose, 31 about hair loss, 145 about sunburn, 489 about a stubbed toe, six about snake bites and 75 about electric shocks.

There were also more than 1,000 calls about mouth ulcers and 305 about an itch.

Other problems that sparked calls to the number include:

  • 17 people called about athlete’s foot.
  • 2,733 people called about constipation.
  • 525 people called about an object stuck in their ear or nose.
  • 217 people called about genital injuries.
  • 99 people called about human bites.
  • 582 people called about failed contraception.
  • 169 people called about sexual problems.
  • 2,766 people called about genital injuries or problems.

Calls have increased from 548,318 in August 2013 to 983,683 in August 2014 – 96.3% of which were answered within 60 seconds, the NHS said, adding that satisfaction rates grew from 86% last year to 90% this year.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “With a million calls a month, NHS 111 is helping the NHS deal with growing demand by directing people to the most appropriate place for their injury or illness.”

The service was introduced nationally in April 2013 to replace NHS Direct as a number to call for urgent but non-emergency care. It is free and available 24 hours a day.

The 111 line has been mired in controversy and suffered teething problems after its launch, with patients complaining of calls going unanswered, poor advice given and calls being diverted to the wrong part of the country.

It was thrown into turmoil last July after NHS Direct announced it was planning to pull out of its contracts due to severe financial problems. NHS Direct later closed.



  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • 111 are an absolute nightmare. They are just an expensive additional layer taking time and resources away from real health care professionals. We have ludicrous things referred to ED, often with 999 ambulances being called.

    NHSD had professional nurses advising; 111 have untrained people following algorhythms on the computer. They belie the allegations that there are qualified nurses on hand to give advice if necessary, as ridiculous things are referred to urgent care. Either that or the nurses are not appropriately qualified and employed on the cheap. Half the 'patients' turning up to urgent/emergency care dont really believe they should be there!

    No wonder there is a crisis in the NHS when our hard earned taxes are spent on this nonsense, all profits going to private providers who do things on the cheap. Qualified staff are being cut to the quick so that these type of services can be provided!

    Until we start to educate the public properly that they cant have everything 24/7 apart from emergencies; that the NHS is not a convenience; and that the NHS is breaking under the strain of demand for urgent care for increasingly trivial demands of long standing aches and pains and niff naff and trivia to be dealt with at any time of the day or night.

    GP's are struggling to provide services due to the draconian cuts to primary care, and are finding it increasingly difficult to get appropriately trained practitioners.

    The public also need to be told to get a grip, or loose the NHS free at the point of delivery completely.

    But methinks that that is what this government really wants anyway.

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