The “problematic” roll-out of the National Health Service’s 111 advice line has left patients not knowing where to turn to for help, doctors have warned.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) said patients had “lost confidence” in the new non-emergency advice line before it was even fully operational.
The service was supposed to be rolled out on 1 April, but officials were forced to put back the deadline after it emerged that many of the advice lines were not ready to go live.
Patients have complained about calls going unanswered and poor advice being given, especially at weekends, which has led to hospitals being inundated with patients who could be treated elsewhere.
Dr Clare Gerada, the chair of the RCGP, said the service should not have been implemented on 1 April, as it was also a Bank Holiday and the day the controversial Health and Social Care Act came into force. She called for “urgent action”.
Dr Gerada said: “We now have a patchwork quilt of services, with NHS 111 working well in some areas, the system seriously flawed in other parts of the country, and patients left in a situation of not knowing where to turn for help or facing long delays in trying to access the service.”