Anger as service for Ludlow and south Shropshire is changed without warning (From Ludlow Advertiser)
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Anger as service for Ludlow and south Shropshire is changed without warning
PEOPLE falling ill outside surgery hours have had a shock this week and one that health campaigners’ fear could cost lives.
The new 111 out of hours went live on Tuesday in what is described as a soft launch with no public announcement.
It means when callers had made a call expecting to be helped by the Shropdoc service, they were instead were put through to a call centre in Dudley staffed by non-health professionals.
According to Peter Corfield, chairman of the Ludlow Hospital League of Friends, the 111 service means sick and frightened people having to endure up to eight minutes of questions.
“They have introduced this without any proper announcement or public consultation,” said Peter Corfield.
“Pity the 85-year-old lady living on her own in the middle of nowhere who calls and needs help.
“When people are feeling unwell and scared the last thing they want is a long list of questions.
“I can see people just not going through with it, making a call directly to 999 that will put even more pressure on that service, or just not bothering to call which would be the worst possible thing to do.
“This could mean people not getting the help that they need and putting lives at risk.”
He said that people in Ludlow and south Shropshire had been well served by the Shropdoc service that had given them the confidence of speaking directly to a trained health professional.
In contrast the new 111 service will be answered by people with no health training but who will simply use a computerised system to ask questions and arrive at an outcome.
“A caller could be asked to redial and call 999 or the call could be put through, it might be passed onto Shropdoc that continues in a reduced form, or might be told to go to the doctor or pharmacist,” added Mr Corfield.
According to a health service bulletin the ‘soft launch’ is in order to ‘enable the service to be embedded in’ and ‘ensure the service can manage demand.’ No public announcement has been made telling people that they can no longer access Shropdoc directly.
To add to the confusion while people living in Shropshire have been automatically switched to the 111 service, those on the other side of the border will call the Shropdoc number.
According to the NHS the new service will benefit from having a single 111 number for all out of hours medical issues that fall short of a full emergency.
It also states that there have been weeks of national and local testing with patient safety at the core.