NHS 111 Emergency Number

We’ve all seen the advert, the marketing material and the posters on the sides of buses, trains etc.


What we may not be aware of, and I wasn’t until my recent visit to A&E is just what the medical professionals; doctors; ambulance staff and casualty staff make of it.


I not wanting to bother A&E called the number for advice, now it becomes apparent at this stage:

  • They are reading from a script
  • They have no medical knowledge at all (Just how much you will come to see)
  • They have call targets and counters


So, diagnosed as I was an ambulance was sent and off to hospital I went.


I told the staff at the hospital about how I got there, and was informed thusly:

  • It’s a good way to get a FREE lift to hospital
  • The staff 9 in 10 times send you to A&E anyway
  • Most worryingly of all is the information given is sometimes completely wrong:


In regard the above statement I refer to a case the A&E doctor told me about, names will be left out.

Doctor: A mother called 111 because her child was having problems breathing. The operator then asked her to put the phone on her child’s chest.

Operator: So I can monitor her breathing.

Doctor: As if a phone receiver would pick up anything in that circumstance.

Operator: I can hear a feint sound from the chest, but is most likely a cold. You said she had a slight fever? Has she passed any blood in her mucus when coughing?

Doctor: Nonsense, absolutely nonsense. Just take you for an example Mr_____________, when they asked you about your fever did you think it was anything out of the ordinary?

Me: I thought i’d picked up a cold.

Doctor: By the time you’d reached A&E your temp was 65, so you can see what I mean. Thankfully the parents brought the child to A&E anyway against 111 recommendation. For a second opinion as it were, by the time she arrived, she was unresponsive.


This could easily have been a horror story like the one in the paper about ambulance staff having to step in to resuscitate the child because hospital staff were unsure what to do. As it is the girl came round, and I assume is on the mend. I never did find out what she was diagnosed with, but obviously something you can’t detect over the phone.


According to A&E staff, 111 operators are always meant to suggest an appointment with your local GP unless one isn’t available within 7 hours. At which time you should either call 111 back or attend A&E (If it is serous of course).


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