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111 is doing what it’s meant to do

I read your story about the new 111 number with interest.

DHs 111 number to swamp GPs

However, I would like to add the following. Ambulance trusts face year-on-year increases in call volumes that will probably put us past the 8 million a year mark for 2010/11. It is surely vital that we look into making sure that as many of the people who go to 999 and A&E departments that could be treated equally well elsewhere are diverted to those alternative services.

The 111 number will be an important part of making this happen. Many of these services will involve people being diverted to primary care and any excess demand there will need to be managed appropriately. Nevertheless, while we await the evaluation from the University of Sheffield of these 111 pilots, your report potentially shows a new system working exactly as it is supposed to.

From Jo Webber
Director, NHS Confederation Ambulance Service Network