Since July 2018 all out of hours calls have been directed to NHS 111. This service is provided by West Midlands Ambulance Service.
In early March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic the number of calls to NHS 111 grew which led to some delays in calls from patients being answered. For patients at the end of their lives with distressing symptoms, any delay is unacceptable.
ShropDoc were aware of the difficulties being experienced by these patients, their families/carers and the professionals who care for them because 15% of home visits out-of-hours are for palliative care. To offer additional support at this time ShropDoc introduced a dedicated Palliative Care Helpline. The aim of this survey was to understand the experience of patients on a palliative care pathway, and those supporting them, in getting help when they needed it from NHS 111 and ShropDoc during the pandemic.
In most aspects both patients/carers and professionals had more positive experiences of the additional support provided by the dedicated ShropDoc Palliative Care Helpline when compared with the NHS 111 service.
We also found...
- Patients/carers reported higher levels of being able to speak to somebody who could help when they first rang ShropDoc, 44% of calls, as opposed to 36% of NHS 111 calls. The difference between the services for professional experiences was greater with 56% of calls to ShropDoc leading to them speaking to somebody who could help against 31% of calls to NHS 111
- 48% of all ShropDoc contacts and 63% of all NHS 111 contacts needed a call back. ShropDoc called back 100% of patient/carers and 86% of professionals within 30 minutes. NHS 111 responded within 30 minutes to 44% of patient/carers and 36% of professional calls
- 95% of callers to ShropDoc reported being either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ and 40% of callers to NHS 111