As the result of an undercover investigation by British newspaper The Sun, the spotlight has been directed today onto the NHS 111 service. Intended to direct non-emergency issues away from the traditional 999 number, 111 receives calls from England and Scotland on a huge range of problems. Potential users of the service are told to call 111 if they "urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation".
An 'urgent investigation' has been launched by the NHS as a result of The Sun's findings which include a suicidal caller being put on hold until they hung up and staff sleeping at their desks or falsely setting their work status to 'busy' to avoid new calls. While this is just anecdotal evidence of one call centre, the official statistics are also damning. As our infographic shows, from August 2016 to January 2017, a total of 571 thousand calls from around the country went unanswered.