North Somerset 111 services receives thousands of calls from patients with coronavirus symptoms
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Thousands of people in North Somerset have contacted the NHS 111 service to report coronavirus symptoms since March, new figures show.
Total calls to the NHS 111 service in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) dropped last month, however, concerns have been raised that those who need urgent treatment may have been put off from seeking help.
NHS England data shows 51,000 incidences of Covid-19 symptoms being logged by the service in the NHS BNSSG CCG area from March 18 to May 14.
The vast majority, 81 per cent, were through online assessments, with the remaining 19 per cent were over the phone.
More than half of these 57 per cent, came in just two weeks in March, with only 9 per cent reported in the first two weeks of May.
Separate figures show the 111 helpline received a total of 22,344 calls in April.
This was 49 per cent less than it did in March, when there were 44,155.
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Sarah Scobie, the Nuffield Trust’s deputy director of research, said: “This month’s data suggests the NHS 111 service is less in demand this month, and better able to take the pressure off front-line services.
“A high number of NHS 111 calls and the fall in hospital attendances suggest people are still making careful choices about going to hospitals.
“There are now concerns those who do require urgent medical treatment may be put off from seeking help due to fear of infection or a desire to reduce pressure on overstretched health and services, despite some reassurances from the NHS that these services are still open.”
Health leaders are urging people to seek medical help from the correct services if they need it.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said the 111 service performed well in April, rebounding from pressures it faced in March.
He said: “A&E attendances were sharply down, but the majority of these reductions were for lower risk conditions.
“Urgent cancer referrals are now picking back up – having doubled over the past three weeks – and the NHS has launched a public information campaign reminding people of the importance of seeking care for urgent and emergency conditions.”