Northamptonshire’s NHS 111 service praised despite teething problems

The 111 service which covers Northamptonshire has received praise from inspectors
The 111 service which covers Northamptonshire has received praise from inspectors

An NHS 111 service which handles urgent calls from patients in our area has scored top marks in an inspection by a health watchdog, two years after it was launched.

Derbyshire Health United operates the service in Northamptonshire.

Patients were treated with respect and compassion, with call advisors offering empathetic and compassionate support to callers.

It was launched in March 2013 and replaced the former NHS Direct phone line.

The report follows an inspection in March this year led by a team of inspectors accompanied by a GP, paramedic and a specialist advisor with experience of 111 services.

A spokesman for Derbyshire Health United said: “The report highlights that patients experienced care that was delivered by dedicated, knowledgeable and caring staff.

“The inspectors found that the service was effective in responding to calls and directing patients to the appropriate health care service that best met their needs.

“Patients were treated with respect and compassion, with call advisors offering empathetic and compassionate support to callers.

“Patient experience surveys revealed a high degree of satisfaction with the service provided and the attitude of staff towards the patients.”

Not long after the service first launched, the Telegraph reported in August 2013 that the then new phone line was failing to meet targets.

Several readers also contacted the Telegraph at the time to say that the service had not been well advertised and that they had sometimes waited hours for a call back – well outside the target time of 10 minutes.

However, the latest inspection report said Derbyshire Health United had good systems in place to help ensure patient safety through learning from incidents and complaints.

Chief executive of Derbyshire Health United Stephen Bateman said: “We are delighted to receive this strong endorsement from the CQC which highlights the commitment and compassion of our staff to deliver the highest quality of care to patients.

“The inspectors found that there were high levels of patient satisfaction and that there are good systems in place to identify and safeguard patients at risk of harm.

“The inspectors clearly recognised our desire to continually learn and improve to make our service even better for patients.”