NHS 111 service referred 2.84m to GPs between August 2010 and October 2013 / Alamy

GPs have reported cases of patients being referred to them with colds, sore thumbs or other minor conditions

Doctors have warned the NHS 111 service is piling more pressure on already over-stretched GP services, by referring too many people unnecessarily.

The British Medical Association said that there had been a huge jump last year in patients recommended to see a doctor by call handlers working for the health service’s non-emergency phone line.

As of October 2013, the phone line had referred 2.84m to GPs since August 2010. By October 2014, this had risen to 8.14m.

The NHS said that the rise was in line with the total number of calls to the number, which has been increasing as the phone line is rolled out more widely.

However, Dr Charlotte Jones, the BMA’s GP lead on NHS 111 said that doctors were reporting cases of patients being referred to them with colds, sore thumbs or other minor conditions that would be more appropriately dealt with at home.

“The number of calls logged as ‘self-care’ seems to have dramatically fallen since the introduction of NHS 111,” she said.

It has also been claimed the phone line is sending too many people to A&E unnecessarily, but NHS England maintains it is coping well and in fact prevented 2m from going to A&E who would otherwise have done so.

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