From 1 December 2020, the NHS has introduced a new system called NHS 111 First. This means that NHS 111 can now book you an appointment at your local A&E or get you an urgent appointment at an alternative health service. The NHS 111 First campaign encourages people to call NHS 111 before going to emergency departments.
During COVID-19, people have relied on NHS 111 more than ever to get urgent medical advice. Healthwatch England’s latest research looks at people’s experiences of NHS 111 and awareness of the new A&E time slot booking service.
To better understand public attitudes towards NHS 111, including awareness of the new services offered by NHS 111 First, and support the best possible roll-out of this new service, Healthwatch England commissioned YouGov to run a UK representative online poll of 2076 adults (18+) between 27 – 28 January 2021.
Through the Healthwatch network, the views of over 400 people who had used NHS 111 in the last six months were also recorded.
- The majority (84%) of polling respondents said that they were aware that they could call NHS 111 for urgent medical advice. Almost three-quarters (70%) agreed that they were more likely to call NHS 111 than go straight to an emergency department when they had an urgent medical problem.
- More than three out of four people who had used the service and got through to an advisor (79%) felt they had got the help they needed.
- Almost three quarters (72%) of those that have used the service agreed that they generally had positive experiences when they called NHS 111, while 12% disagreed and 13% were neutral.
- Not feeling confident in the advice given by NHS 111 call handlers was a common issue. Only 55% of all polling respondents said they felt confident that when they phoned the service, the person they spoke to would be qualified to help them.
- Those who did use NHS 111 First and had a timeslot booked for them at A&E were highly likely to rate their experience as very good, suggesting that that the new system is working when people are given the option.
- However, awareness of the new service is low. 80% of polling respondents were not aware that NHS 111 could reserve timeslots at GPs and 73% were not aware they could reserve timeslots at A&E.