By Michele Benjamin
Low pay has been blamed for a recruitment shortfall which is causing the south’s ambulance service to miss its response targets for 111 calls.
The South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is required to answer 95% of its calls within one minute. However, latest figures show just under 66% of 111 calls were answered in 60 seconds in February 2019.
NHS staff said the recruitment of call handlers was a “real challenge”.
Last month’s 65.9% figure was down from the 86.7% reached in May 2018, according to SCAS.
The service said in a statement it had experienced “some challenges” in the past nine months with regards to the time it took to respond to non-emergency calls.
It added: “We are also experiencing higher levels of demand for our services, and that, combined with some issues we have had in the recruitment of new staff over the winter months has led to a negative impact on our call answer time.”
SCAS added it had continued its recruitment process over the winter and recruited 17 new members into its 111 service since January.
Michele Benjamin, a specialist clinical negligence lawyer said: “It is worrying that only over half of the calls received at the 111 service, are picked up within the requisite timescale. It is extremely important that a patient’s concerns are dealt with in an appropriate and timely manner, especially with a serious condition where every second counts. Speediness is vital in ensuring each individual receives the appropriate care at the earliest opportunity. It is positive that the SCAS have begun to recruit more members and it may be that certain measures are to be put in place to ensure constant adherence to call response times.”
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