UK DOCTORS CALL FOR GOVERNMENT TO HALT NEW 111 NHS HOTLINE – In what is clearly another mistake by Sir David Nicholson, the head of the NHS, doctors are warning him that his plan for the new NHS 111 Hotline could well result in the loss of patient lives.
The NHS 111 Hotline is designed to allow patients that are not critically ill or those who do not require an ambulance, to call the 111 Hotline for advice and is supposed to replace the NHS Direct system.
The 111 Hotline has undergone a number of pilot schemes throughout the UK and doctors have warned that the system is completely chaotic.
A report detailed that staff monitoring the system are not clinically trained and simply have to follow procedure of a computer program in order to ask the patient questions about their medical condition. Some phone calls are not being answered at all due to the overload to incoming calls; something doctors feel is putting patient lives at serious risk.
Sir David has already face the Health Select Committee on a number of occasions over his role in the Mid-Staffordshire debacle which cost the lives of over 1,200 patients and while committee members, healthcare groups and the public have continuously demanded he steps down. However, Sir David has refused to do so, despite public concerns and the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has refused to sack Sir David, quoting “He is doing a great job.”
The British Medical Association (BMA) has written to Sir David, pleading with him to either scrap the system or delay it until a time where the system can be effectively operated; however Sir David appears to be extremely reluctant as the new NHS 111 Hotline is due to be rolled out across the UK on Monday, 1st April 2013 – April Fool’s Day – a day that could show the UK what a fool Sir David really is; or the fact that he has little or no concern about patient care.
The Daily Mail reported that in one case a 111 worker told a mother of a sick baby that she ‘ wasn’t sure what to do or what advice to give.’ This only heightens doctors and the medical professions fears that the new NHS 111 Hotline is woefully inadequate.
During a testing of the NHS 111 Hotline in Greater Manchester the system crashed as it was simply not robust enough to cope with the number of incoming calls. This left patients unable to seek assistance and many turned to dialing 999 as a last resort; something the 111 Hotline is supposed to reduce. Many patients told reporters that calling the 111 Hotline simply resulted in an automated message telling them to ‘call back tomorrow.’
One of the biggest fears by doctors and the medical profession is the employment of non-professionals. These people, according to doctors, receive inadequate training and the public might be led to believe these are in fact medical professionals; which is clearly not the case.
The system uses a computer program that is supposed to direct the operators questions to the patient but invariably a computer program simply cannot determine what aliments a patient may or may not have and these can certainly not be ascertained by untrained staff.
Sir David Nicholson is convinced, regardless to what doctors and the BMA have to say that the system can work and reduce costs. Again, Sir David appears more interested in cutting costs than saving lives; but that’s nothing new.
It is clear that once again Sir David has failed at his job and if he was really interested in saving the NHS money then his resignation would go a long way in helping.
Will the Prime Minister now bow down to public and professional pressure and relieve Sir David of his post before he is again responsible for the deaths of more patients – would it not be more appropriate for Sir David to stand down and then face the courts for the crime of corporate manslaughter?
No doubt come Monday Sir David and the Prime Minister will ignore reason in order to save face while putting our lives in serious peril.