The British Medical Association remains concerned that NHS 111 could drive up hospital admissions, as new figures reveal that sites providing the service have experienced an 8% rise in ambulance attendances.
The recently released NHS 111 minimum data set to June 2012 reveals an increase of 8% in ambulances arriving at the scene of emergencies in areas of the country with NHS 111.
In comparison, there has been a 3% increase in ambulance attendances across the rest of the country.
The figures show that 111 calls trigger an ambulance dispatch in 11% of cases. There has also been a 3% increase in A&E attendances – including a 12% increase on the Isle of Wight – and a 6% increase in patients attending GP out-of-hours, urgent care and walk in centres at the NHS 111 sites.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chair of the BMA’s GP Committee, said: “The principle behind NHS 111 – making access to urgent services easier for the patient – is one we agree with, but the current system places this worthy ideal at risk.
“The BMA remains concerned that NHS111 is overly expensive for the taxpayer and could drive up admissions, as indicated by these figures.”
EHealth Insider revealed last week that only eight clinical commissioning groups out of 212 have applied for an extension to the roll out deadline for NHS 111.
The government had set a deadline for commissioners to have the urgent care telephone service rolled out across England by April 2013. But in June it announced that CCGs could apply for an extension of up to six months.
However, Dr Buckman said the relatively low number of extension applications does not mean GPs are on board with the current programme.
"CCGs are incredibly busy at present and going through the authorisation process for NHS111 is not top of their priorities,” he said. “A few supporters for roll-out does not indicate GPs on the ground are happy with NHS111.”
"It is important that the government listens to the concerns of health professionals and makes changes to NHS111 so that patients get the best financial and clinical deal."