This site is intended for health professionals only

3% of callers received NHS 111 error messages due to high demand

Exclusive Problems with NHS 111 over Christmas led to 3% of callers being told there was a ‘technical fault’ with the line on its busiest day, Pulse has learnt.

NHS England told Pulse that NHS 111 experienced a 40% increase in average call volume on its busiest day of the Christmas period – Saturday 27 December – and that this led to a ‘very small number’ of callers (3%) experiencing technical difficulties.

The latest NHS 111 statistics update states that on an average day in November 36,100 calls are taken, meaning the Christmas error would be likely to have affected at least 1,000 calls.

A spokesperson for NHS England told Pulse this an extremely rare event, and said: ‘In the run up to Christmas call volumes to the service increased by 40% with Saturday 27 December being the busiest day.

‘As a result of the high demand a very small number, around 3% of callers to the NHS 111 number, encountered a technical difficulties message on that day. Overall the service responded well despite the high level of demand.’

Pulse previously reported that technical issues and the scale of demand for 111 led to GPs being drafted in on the Christmas weekend to help reduce the burden on emergency services,including Devon LMC’s interim medical secretary Dr Mark Sanford-Wood having 90 patient contacts in just one day because of the technical problems.

Meanwhile, last week it emerged that Care UK had lost around 15,000 non-urgent post-event messages due to a technical fault.