A Burnley man has hit out at the new NHS urgent care telephone service after he was left waiting hours for treatment.
Mr Brian Goodwill has now written to the town’s MP Mr Gordon Birtwistle to complain about the system, which is currently operated by NHS Direct for people with a non-life-threatening condition who need urgent medical advice .
Mr Goodwill, who had an operation on his hand at Burnley General Hospital on October 7th, called 111 on Sunday, October 13th, after his wife noticed the wound looked infected.
Instead of going to hospital, Mr Goodwill rang the helpline for advice. He called the number at 12-45pm and was told he would be put through to a nurse.
After some time on hold he was told that the computer system was down and he was given another telephone number.
When he eventually got through to a nurse he was told to ring 111. Mr Goodwill (71), who lives in Deerpark Road, explained he had already called 111 and that he wanted to see an out-of-hours doctor at the St Peter’s Centre.
Again he said he called 111 but was told someone would contact him.
After not hearing anything for another hour, Mr Goodwill called the 111 line again at 3-10pm. He was finally put through to a nurse at 3-28pm. At 4-15pm he received a call from a doctor at the St Peter’s Health Centre and an appointment was made for him for 5pm.
The doctor prescribed antibiotics to treat the infection but said he was unable to dress the wound and that Mr Goodwill would have to make an appointment with his own GP surgery for the following day for a nurse to change the dressing and he was sent home with no dressing on the wound.
He said: “It was unbelievable. Even when I rang 111 at 3-10pm and spoke to a woman, she said it was ridiculous. I had about 20 stitches in the wound. It’s a terrible service. It’s beyond belief.”
A spokesman for NHS England, which is involved in running the service, said he was unable to discuss individual cases but urged Mr Goodwill to report his concerns to NHS Direct or his GP’s practice.
He added: “Although NHS 111 has had some administrative problems it has mostly been well used and proved successful to the majority of people who have used the service.
“We do have targets in terms of call answering which the handlers are urged to meet when possible.
“Unfortunately some calls take longer to answer but we ask people to please be patient.
“Although it would not be appropriate to comment on a particular case we note that this call was resolved on the part of NHS 111 and an appointment was made.”
The 111 service was set up for people who need urgent medical treatment but are unsure of where to go.
The website says the service is for people who need medical help fast but it is not a 999 emergency, they think they need to go to A&E or need another NHS urgent care service, if they do not have access to a GP, or for reassurance and advice.