NHS 111 in North East: Thousands abandoning calls to service every day over Christmas and New Year

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Nearly 30% of ‘distressed and unwell’ callers from the North East over the festive period were left without the help they needed.

Over 1,000 calls to 111 from the North East over Christmas and New Year were abandoned every day, leaving nearly 30% 'distressed and unwell' callers over the festive period without the help they needed.

New figures from the NHS dive into the efficiency of its 111 number, which comes after residents in the North East were issued an urgent plea to only use 999 in emergencies last month.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The health system continues to battle one of its toughest winters yet with services struggling to keep up with demand. On Monday, it was confirmed by Unison that ambulance crew strikes would go ahead this week after the government could not come to an agreement on a pay deal.

The proportion of NHS 111 calls being abandoned is worse this year than last, despite efforts to make the public more aware of what the service is and how to use it. Nationwide, 389,020 calls to the service were abandoned between December 19, 2022 and January 1, 2023.

That makes for an average of 33.4% abandoned, which is marginally higher than the 29.5% recorded in the North East. In our region, 58,553 people called 111 between those dates, with 17,257 people abandoning their calls early.

Nuffield Trust Deputy Director of Research, Sarah Scobie said: “It’s not surprising that more NHS 111 calls are being abandoned as demand has risen to very high levels this winter, but behind these figures are distressed and unwell people struggling to get the medical help they need.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Delays in these services could put patient safety at risk and may also put primary care and other urgent care services under more pressure as people seek care elsewhere when they don’t get a timely response.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay explained what is behind the current strain on health system services.

Steve Barclay Steve Barclay
Steve Barclay

Mr Barclay said: “The NHS is under significant pressure this winter, following the pandemic and a surge in Covid and flu cases - over 5,000 hospital beds a day are being taken up by flu patients, compared to fewer than 50 this time last year.

“Now more than ever it is vital that all those who are eligible come forward for their flu and Covid jabs to reduce pressure on the NHS and help ensure emergency services can be there for those who need them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Alongside record funding, including up to £14.1 billion for health and social care over the next two years, we are urgently implementing measures to improve flow through hospitals, creating the equivalent of 7,000 new beds and investing £500 million to speed up hospital discharge, freeing up beds and helping get ambulances swiftly back out on the road.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.