Murray MacGregor – Thursday 5th November 2020 – 12.45pm.
A year ago to the day, West Midlands Ambulance Service took it’s first 111 call. Today, 1.4 million calls later, staff are celebrating an incredibly successful first year.
The Trust provides the service across the West Midlands (excluding Staffordshire) from a call centre in Brierley Hill.
No-one could have foreseen the year that has just happened: as well as the many improvements implemented, the effect COVID-19 has had on 111 has been immense. The challenges and successes were heavily featured on the Channel 4 programme Paramedics: Britain’s Lifesavers back in the summer.
Head of 111, Rob Till, said: “We initially played a crucial role in arranging test appointments and providing results before testing was moved online. More recently, we have become a gateway to many other NHS services such as urgent treatment centres and for GP appointments and that will continue over the coming months.
“In the last 12 months we have recruited 739 new call handlers and clinicians. This means we are always one of the top providers for answering calls quickly. We also now have GP’s, advanced nurses and paramedics, dental nurses, mental health nurses and pharmacists giving specialist advice to patients, 24 hours day.
“Having such a dedicated team meant we were able to maintain a great service to patients throughout the challenging COVID peak and continue to assist other 111 areas with their calls when necessary.
“Our staff have done an amazing job and we are in a really strong position ahead of the most challenging winter the NHS has ever faced.”
Paul Maubach, Chief Executive of the Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Groups, who commission the 111 service, said: “I want to thank the staff who work within 111 for the exceptional efforts they have put into running this service during one of the most challenging periods the NHS has ever seen. The fact that you have been able to answer so many calls, help patients and provide a great service is testament to your hard work.
“111 has proved itself to be a vital part of the NHS and with the developments that are coming over the next 12 months I am in no doubt that you will continue to provide a great service for patients and continue to be a crucial part of the NHS.”
WMAS Integrated Emergency and Urgent Care Director, Jeremy Brown, added: “I am always very proud when our commissioners remark on what a great service the staff are providing. When you consider the level of recruitment and our response to COVID-19, they really have been exemplary.
“The future also looks exciting with the full integration of the 999 and 111 services which will benefit staff and patients. We are already seeing an increase in the number of ambulance crews accessing the specialist advice available from the advanced clinicians in the 111 call centre, which is helping to reduce the number of patients being taken to A&E. We also expect to see the further development of video triaging, which is already benefitting patients. The next year looks just as exciting as the first.”
Trust Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh commented: “This has been a real success story despite the extraordinary challenges that the 111 service has faced. With the developments coming, we will create an even better service. Congratulations to everyone in 111.”