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Independents' Day

Give me a call, 111


I’m going to buck the trend here. One: I’m not going to say coronavirus or covid-19, because the very sounds of those words is already enough to make me heave. And two: knowing what an impossible job it has been trying to cope just in my own practice with the havoc created by the Microorganism That Shall Not Be Named, I’m going to doff my PPE mask, if I had one, to all those who have been trying to sort it out on a national scale.

So Public Health, Government, Government Advisers and everyone else who’s pitched in and yes, I include 111 in that, well done. Yes, you’ve dropped a few rickets along the way but, Jeez, this one isn’t easy, and it’s quite clear that you’re taking tough decisions and you’re trying to communicate them. And I genuinely believe that when you, say, forget what the implications might be for general practice when you change the working diagnosis of MTSNBN to potentially incorporate about 50% of those that attend my surgery, it’s not because you don’t care, it’s because you need a 25th hour in the day to think straight.

So, knowing you are doing your best, I am prepared to keep panicking and carrying on. But please sort out just one teensy thing. Specifically, tell us in GP land exactly what 111 are being scripted to say for coughs, sore throats, sniffles, fever and all the other respiratory epiphenomena that might or might not be MTSNBN. Because it is so hard in general practice trying to work out our own flow charts and protocols for reception, switchboard, nurses, trainees and ourselves when we’re not exactly sure what a) You’re dealing with b) Bouncing to us c) Saying - and therefore where our true entry point is.

We want to be sure we’re triaging the right stuff to you. We don’t want to duplicate what you’re doing. We don’t want to bounce stuff that will rebound back, twice as disgruntled. And we want to know when patients say that 111 told them to ‘See my GP to get some antibiotics’ (as per patient yesterday) whether they’re actually telling a pack of fibs.

So let’s integrate, a bit, shall we? That doesn’t mean shaking hands, but it does mean sharing information.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at



Readers' comments (6)

  • Knowledge is Porridge

    Not MORE overloaded guff from 111. They need to use something to filter out the useless information they send us, or to highlight the useful bits.
    While we are recognising and removing the barriers to good care (cqc, qof, appraisal, revalidation) can't we use this moment to try life without 111 data overload?

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  • We've directed 2% of people to 111 this week from our new total telephone triage (haven't got access to online triage yet). Having had over a thousand patient contacts I would like to follow in your footsteps by praising and thanking our simply amazing primary care workforce - some of whom have been doing this work from home whilst caring for unwell family.
    I can't imagine how our colleagues in secondary care are managing or how they feel but we want to be ready to support them in any way we can. We will rise to these new challenges but could probably do with some concrete central reassurances about having to abandon normal ways of working to do this......

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  • And some PPE......

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  • 5 stars again.
    Surely all patients referred from 111 come with a written referral including all necessary information, as specified by GMC/NMC don't they Tony?

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  • @Knowledge is Porridge. No chance. The useless information is to cover their back sides from the litigatious lawyer favouring system they have set up. Maybe, just maybe Covid 19 would bring back nature's balance and sort these ambulance chasers out.

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  • … ditto for the under 5s.

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