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LMCs demand independent inquiry into NHS 111 ‘debacle’

LMC delegates have called on the Government to convene an independent inquiry into NHS 111, focusing on the use of non-medically trained call handlers to triage patients.

The LMCs conference unanimously voted in favour of a motion demanding an investigation into the ‘debacle’ of the service’s soft launch in March, which led to out-of-hours GP providers having to take back control of triage in some areas.

GP representatives said any inquiry should also focus on the ‘wholly inappropriate application of triage by the least qualified’, which they said was contrary to evidence-based practice.

Dr Nick Morton told the conference he had quit his role as associate medical director at East of England Ambulance Service, which runs an NHS 111 service, because of concerns over the service and the poor guidance the trust had received from the Department of Health.

He said NHS 111 could work but added: ‘We should have a GP in each 111 call centre to do a sense check to make sure we use resources appropriately.’

Many delegates said they had noticed an increase in their workloads.

Dr John Hughes, chair of Manchester LMC, said the service was ‘a shambles, a complete disaster and waste of money’.

The Government has already commissioned an inquiry from Deloitte but Dr Hughes said the findings would not be made public because they contain commercially-sensitive information.