Why the recent increase in ‘vital’ NHS 111 calls reflects lockdown progress

We Are Aware, taken before social distancing.

We Are Aware, taken before social distancing. - Credit: We Are Aware

Recent NHS England figures show an increase in NHS 111 calls across the South West in May.

Community Zoom call held by We Are Aware, June 6.

Community Zoom call held by We Are Aware, June 6. - Credit: We Are Aware

More calls were made to the NHS 111 service in North Somerset last month, figures have shown.

Data collected by NHS England revealed 22,430 calls were made across North Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire in May.

The numbers come in conjunction with recent research commissioned by the Health Foundation charity, which shows 47 per cent of people said they would feel uncomfortable using their local hospital if they needed to in May, mainly due to concerns regarding exposure to coronavirus.

Weston General Hospital was closed to new patients on May 25 due to a spike in coronavirus cases.

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These figures highlight the importance of services such as NHS 111 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Voluntary mental health group, We Are Aware (WAA), operates in North Somerset by ‘promoting good mental health and wellbeing’.

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Director Becci McCready spoke about what the NHS England data indicates.

She said: “(The data shows) services like 111 are vital, especially during these times.

“Everything is moving online and some people are being left behind so we try to include them with workshops or phone lines, as does 111. We need to help everyone.”

The coronavirus pandemic has forced WAA to change how they channel support and people joining its Facebook group.

Becci said: “We’ve seen an increase in members over lockdown, people feel more vulnerable and isolated.

“We have more than 150,000 members and post weekly quizzes and interactive posts to provide company and get them chatting.

“Recently, we have created a separate We Are Aware Isolation Support group on Facebook. Anyone can join – it just feels more inclusive and helps people who are being badly affected by the lockdown.”

Another study reveals NHS 111 services in the South West area have seen a huge drop in the average number of coronavirus symptoms being reported daily, something Becci sees as a positive sign as it may reflect

people coming forward with other issues, such as mental health.

She said: “The hardest thing is reaching out for help the first time. Any service that can offer mental and physical support is vital.”

For more on We Are Aware, visit www.weareaware.info