Every clinician knows there are risks in providing care that must be minimised and managed.
Incident reporting alone is not an indicator of clinical performance – it is, however, an indication of good governance and of an organisation with an open culture of staff reporting.
The Department of Health takes all NHS 111 pilots through a rigorous clinical governance assessment process before each service goes live.
As with any new service being tested, the trigger points for the incidents reported in the NHS 111 pilots are cases that can provide us with the opportunity to learn lessons to support patients in the future.
We firmly believe that incidents need to be thoroughly and quickly acted on and reported transparently as part of continuous improvement.
I am sure GPs appreciate the immense effort involved in setting up and delivering a new service.
We are learning important lessons from the pilots, but in reality nobody is sure yet how urgent care systems will be affected by the new service.
We know from our pilots that NHS 111 supports fewer patients to self-care than the 0845 4647 service, and refers more patients to face-to-face urgent care services.
We need to use the emerging evidence and learning to ensure the development of a cost-effective clinical service that is safe for patients.
From Dr Brian Gaffney, medical director, NHS Direct, and a GP in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.