Health leaders in Hertfordshire have assured patients they can be confident of a good quality service from the non-emergency number 111, despite news that provider NHS Direct has pulled out of contracts in areas including nearby Bedfordshire because of cost issues.
The line, designed for health calls less urgent than 999 emergencies, has suffered problems in other parts of the country including unanswered calls and poor advice.
The service has not, however, seen similar problems in Herts, where it is provided by Herts Urgent Care, which also looks after out-of-hours GP provision.
Between October – when the Herts service started as one of the pilots in England – and the end of June, the county 111 line has received more than 218,000 calls and only 57 complaints – a rate of just 0.02 per cent.
Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning says he is not concerned about knock-on effects from the failure of the 111 service in other areas.
He said: “I have had no complaints to do with the 111 service in Herts whatsoever.
“There are problems elsewhere in the country but I am pleased they appear to be on top of it here.
“The minor injury unit in Hemel Hempstead does really well and we have excellent GP services in the town. Watford is under pressure, so the more we can encourage people to use the services we have in the local area, the better.”
Dacorum Hospital Action Group chairman Betty Harris said: “I don’t know why 111 is doing so much better in Herts, but I have heard no negative comments about it.”