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GPs should offer ‘sufficient’ number of direct-booking slots to NHS 111

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GP practices should adjust the number of appointment slots that are kept open for direct booking from NHS 111 to meet demand – which could mean fewer slots than previously stipulated.

In a letter to practices, NHS England said temporary pandemic changes to the GP contract mandating practices keep one appointment open per 500 patients per day were being extended.

But it added: ‘GP practices are asked to make sufficient slots available for NHS 111 to refer into; they should assess the use of the slots each day and adjust the number to meet demand. This could be fewer than 1 in 500.’

NHS England said the measures ‘remain necessary to support phase 3 of the NHS response, in particular the important role NHS 111 is playing in reducing the face-to-face transmission risk for patients and NHS staff.’

First brought in earlier in the year until 30 September, the letter said the arrangement should now be in place until 31 March next year.

NHS England reiterated that the slots ‘which will be booked following clinical triage’ are ‘not appointments in a traditional sense’; ‘instead practices should clinically assess the patients remotely and arrange their ongoing management’.

It added: ‘This ensures that only those who need further care (in-person or via telephone / video consultation) are presenting to services, and they are managed as appropriate for their clinical condition.’

The news comes as NHS England is currently in the process of introducing a system of asking patients to phone NHS 111 before attending A&E from this winter, which is expected to see call handlers divert patients to GP practices.

However, NHS England’s letter did not refer to this programme.

The letter also extended the pandemic suspensions of Friends and Family Test requirements; as well as the need to get patient consent to transfer them to electronic repeat dispensing.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

John Graham Munro 2 October, 2020 2:22 pm


Giles Elrlngton 2 October, 2020 2:59 pm

The NHS should of course offer ‘sufficient’ opportunity for all care, not only to 111 callers. When the NHS leaders balance demand with supply this will work; while demand exceeds supply (the regrettable long term position) such edicts rob Peter to pay Paul.

Not Arvind Madan 2 October, 2020 3:22 pm

Have any appts as you want. But just know these wont be additional appointments and they will replace those our population is trying to make directly. There is no ‘magic appointment tree’ you know….

Patrufini Duffy 2 October, 2020 5:11 pm

Today – 111 booked in panic attacks and a UTI into CCAS slots. They were unapologetic. Fishy, careless tactics. If you’re a 10000 list you’re providing 20 slots which is 400 slots a month for virtually free! Ers, walk-ins, UCCs, GUM and everything is limited, not GPs!

Douglas Price 2 October, 2020 5:28 pm

We haven’t had any CCAS slots booked. Ever. Can we just remove them then…

Andi Williams 5 October, 2020 12:11 pm

One of my patients used it to queue jump for an emergency appt on a regular basis. No remorse when asked them about it. I have no faith 111 is able to assess urgency compared to patients already on my triage list. They should join the triage list like everyone else. A 6m skin lesion should not go in front of an asthmatic patient with worsening symptoms. My list my decision.