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Make the Right Call: Why patient feedback on NHS 111 services is so important

PUBLISHED: 12:30 18 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:30 18 July 2014

NHS 111 Ipswich call centre

NHS 111 Ipswich call centre

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Our Make the Right Call campaign aims to direct people towards the right healthcare provider – whether it is a GP pharmacy, NHS 111 or A&E. This week we focus on patient satisfaction. Health correspondent LAUREN EVERITT reports

Across Suffolk, the NHS 111 service and out-of-hours GP and dental services are run by independent health and social care provider, Care UK.

These are services usually required at very short notice and patients, understandably, expect them to be responsive to their immediate needs. Ensuring the services are as patient-friendly as possible means patient engagement is crucial.

Care UK’s regional relationship manager, Zoe Pursglove, stressed the importance the company places on public engagement.

“It’s partly about ensuring patients understand how the services work but, more importantly, it’s about listening to people’s experience of the services and using those experiences and comments to continually improve the services,” said Zoe.

There are a number of ways Care UK gathers patient feedback: regular NHS 111 surveys, internal GP and dental out-of-hours surveys, external Healthwatch surveys and patient forums.

Zoe said: “Every month we survey a sample of our NHS 111 patient contacts. Comments are followed up on and an action plan instigated. All feedback is shared with the people who commission the services from us, the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group and West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group.

“Our monthly patient surveys show a very high level of satisfaction with the service and, interestingly, show more than half of those who called NHS 111 would have contacted 999 or A&E had 111 not been available. This suggests NHS 111 is helping relieve pressure on the emergency services.

“In our most recent survey, 87% said they were extremely likely/likely to recommend the service to family or friends, 90% said the NHS 111 service dealt with the call effectively and 90% said that their call was answered promptly.

“Similarly, we survey a percentage of patient contacts with our GP out-of-hours service. The outcomes are discussed at quality assurance meetings and adverse comments are reviewed by a clinical lead and the administration manager and followed up where necessary. Again, feedback is shared with our commissioners.

“When it comes to our dental service, a survey is given to every patient treated in our mobile dental unit. Feedback is shared with the dental team and the regional medical director and any adverse comments are investigated by the dental lead.

“We also work closely with Healthwatch in conducting a survey on the second Saturday of the month, once every four months.

“An action plan is created, followed up on and shared with our commissioners. This survey covers the whole patient journey so we get a combined response from patients covering the NHS 111 service and the out-of-hours experience.

“Once a year, we hold patient forums in the east and west of the county when patients are invited to come and ‘meet the team’ and learn how NHS 111 and the out-of-hours services work.”

Anyone who would like to comment on Care UK’s services in Suffolk or who would like a query answered can register their query by going to www.careuk.com/suffolk-out-hours/enquiry-from

The NHS 111 number is not for life-threatening emergencies – people should still dial 999 in such a situation.

However, if it is not a life-threatening situation but you feel you need urgent attention, then NHS 111 is the number to call.

The service is invaluable if you have symptoms which you are unsure about; if you are feeling unwell or are concerned about a relative or friend.

Perhaps you have had a nagging pain or persistent cough but are not sure whether you should go to your GP or get some over the counter medicine from your local pharmacist.

NHS 111 health advisers can help in all these situations. People should also call 111 before heading to A&E.

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