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Coronavirus: Tens of thousands of calls to NHS 111 in Cornwall

Coronavirus: Tens of thousands of calls to NHS 111 in Cornwall

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 10:00am 24th May 2020.

NHS 111 services in Cornwall have logged tens of thousands of users reporting coronavirus symptoms since March.

Total calls to the NHS 111 service in Cornwall dropped last month, however, as health think tank the Nuffield Trust expressed concerns those who need urgent treatment may be put off seeking help.

NHS England data shows 21,981 occasions when someone in the NHS Kernow CCG area logged possible Covid-19 symptoms from March 18th to May 14th.

The vast majority of these (85%) were through NHS 111 online assessments, with the remaining 15% over the phone.

Across England, there were more than 3 million reports of potential coronavirus through 111 services over the two-month period.

In the Duchy, more than half of these (58%) came in just two weeks in March, with only 8% reported in the first two weeks of May.

Separate figures show the Cornwall 111 helpline received a total of 14,154 calls in April.

This was 37% less than it did in March, when there were 22,347.

Coronavirus

Sarah Scobie, the Nuffield Trust's deputy director of research, said the 111 tool was "essential" to keep patients with suspected Covid-19 symptoms safe, and those who seek advice on other conditions.

She said: "This month's data suggests that the NHS 111 service is less in demand this month, and better able to take the pressure off frontline services.

"A high number of NHS 111 calls and the fall in hospital attendances suggest that people are still making careful choices about going to hospitals.

"There are now legitimate concerns that those who do require urgent medical treatment may be put off from seeking help due to fear of infection or a desire to reduce pressure on overstretched health and services, despite some reassurances from the NHS that these services are still open."

Of the calls taken last month, 17% were abandoned by callers kept waiting for 30 seconds or more.

This was an improvement on March, when 32% were abandoned, but a rise on the ​3% from last April.

face mask coronavirus

The Health Foundation said the data shows that many people's needs may have gone unmet during the pandemic, while others' conditions may have become worse.

Sarah Deeny, assistant director of data analytics, added: "As they begin to resume core health services, it is vital that Government and the NHS understand the full extent of people’s unmet health needs."

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said the 111 service performed strongly in April, rebounding from the pressure it faced in March.

He said: "A&E attendances were sharply down, but the majority of these reductions were for lower risk conditions.

"Urgent cancer referrals are now picking back up – having doubled over the past three weeks – and the NHS has launched a public information campaign reminding the people of the importance of seeking care for urgent and emergency conditions.”

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director

You can find all the source data here and here.

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