Oxfordshire's NHS 111 service 'could compromise patient safety'

NHS logo Image copyright PA
Image caption Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has said the safety of patients could be "compromised"

The safety of patients using the 111 service in Oxfordshire could be "compromised", according to the county's leading health body.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG), which overseas health services, has said the non-emergency service lacks "resilience".

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) runs the phone line and has said calls have increased by 16% in the last year.

It claimed staff shortages contributed to problems in answering calls.

'Working hard'

In a risk assessment report published by OCCG, it said: "Patient safety in the 111 service will be compromised due to performance issues caused by a lack of resilience to peaks in demand."

OCCG has ranked the phone line as a "red risk", the highest category for risks to patient safety.

Image caption South Central Ambulance Service has said a rise in calls and recruitment shortfalls contributed to issues with the 111 phone line

It comes after an undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph in June recorded a worker at SCAS's 111 call centre in Bicester, Oxfordshire, saying all staff had "killed someone indirectly".

After the report prompted an investigation in January, the Care Quality Commission said the service was "safe and effective".

The ambulance trust said that a 16% increase in call volume meant phone handlers could not answer calls "as quickly as we would like".

In January alone, the service received 173,563 calls on both their 999 and 111 phone lines.

SCAS has also said that a recruitment shortfall has contributed to issues in responding to calls.

A spokesperson added: "We are working hard to improve our response to the patients who require our assistance.

"We are continuing to recruit staff to the NHS 111 service across our area."

SCAS provides ambulance services for Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites