Significant rise in NHS 111 calls in Yorkshire and Humber
Yorkshire and the Humber saw significantly more NHS 111 calls in the week to December 11 than the previous seven days, new figures show.
Patients across England called the NHS 111 line more than ever before over the period, aside from two weeks in March 2020, when a surge of people sought help during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
In response, NHS England and the Department for Health and Social Care have urged people to use online 111 services for non-emergencies to ensure they receive the care they need during the festive period.
NHS England figures show patients called the Yorkshire and Humber 111 helpline 57,995 times in the week to December 11 – up by 28% on the 45,464 calls made the week before.
Of these, 37,207 (64%) were answered, while 6,170 were answered within 60 seconds.
It meant just 17% of the answered calls were within in a minute – well below the NHS target of 95%.
In England, a total of 706,129 calls were made last week, up 60% on the 440,047 made the previous week, and the highest on record aside from two weeks in March 2020.
Meanwhile, just 15% of answered calls were within 60 seconds.
Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said the huge increase is "understandable with concerns about winter viruses – including strep A – a top priority for the public".
Professor Powis added: "It is more important than ever that the public uses 111 online where possible to get important information about non-emergency health conditions and to be signposted to the best possible care."
The NHS is dealing with industrial action as nurses went on strike for the first time last week in a fight for a better deal.
Professor Powis said the health service was "encouraging people to continue to come forward for the care they need" ahead of further industrial action this week.
Across the country, 320,000 calls were abandoned by patients – 49% of the abandoned or answered calls.
For callers to the Yorkshire and Humber 111 helpline, the figure stood at 36%.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: "NHS 111 online is a vital service that can offer patients the right advice as quickly and conveniently as possible – helping reduce pressure on our busy A&E departments.
"The coming weeks and months will be challenging, so it is essential people know the services available to them, to help access the treatment they need.
"With the uncertainty of more strikes looming, I want to reassure the public we are doing all we can to minimise disruption and remind them to still call 999 in an emergency."