Ben Bradshaw

Working Hard for Exeter

My Question on NHS 111

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): One reason why the number of calls to 111 has trebled is that people find it impossible to get to see their GP. As well as the shocking failings of this family’s GP, is it not the case that the Government were warned of the consequences of abolishing the popular and successful NHS Direct and of replacing it with a non-clinician led service? Will the Secretary of State look personally at the performance of 111 in the south-west, which has been bedevilled by failings ever since it was set up?

Mr Hunt: I gently say to the right hon. Gentleman that when 111 was set up it had the support of the Opposition. The shadow Health Secretary at the time looked at the risk register. The number of calls has increased dramatically partly because demand for NHS services has increased dramatically. That does not mean to say that there are not important things that need to be improved. We need to look honestly at what went wrong. The 111 service was one of the four areas where we should have done better. I am happy to look carefully at what is happening with 111 in the south-west. One improvement is that, in many areas, we are integrating the commissioning of 111 with the Ambulance Service, and that is something that happens in the south-west. On the whole, that has been a positive experience, but I know that there have been problems in the south-west, and I am happy to look further at them.

Watch the exchange here (12:56).

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