The papers are usually filled with headlines about how over stretched the NHS has become; how patient lists are too much to handle for our doctors. However one headline grabbed people’s attention that has caused extreme concern: How a whistle blower has come forward; at twenty one years old a few months into her job as a call handler for the NHS “non emergency” line that she was forced to face and deal with life and death situations when she was unqualified to do so.
She spoke of how she would deal with a range of patients from the suicidal; the mentally ill, to the elderly and worried parents; instead of having proper training, these unqualified call handlers were simply told “to do the best they could”.
It has since been revealed that there is usually as a standard one nurse that is actually qualified to over two million patients. Sadly as predicted these dire circumstances have led to tragedy, as two young children have lost their lives after regrettably their parents had been told to just “keep them cool” and give them Calpol, when they were later found to have had septicemia and meningitis respectively.
Ministers have since then called for an urgent investigation to take place; calling for more qualified staff to be employed in order to handle the massive influx of calls. However surely more can be done?
The helpline was originally introduced in order to relieve pressure on doctors and A and E units in hospitals; this has unfortunately backfired with most GP surgeries having appointments for 3 weeks away and a helpline where most of the time people can’t even speak to someone or when they do they are un qualifed; they are forced to seek help from A and E, which puts even more pressure on hospital staff.
Personally after hearing how dangerous this helpline has become, I would much rather try and seek help elsewhere, at least day way I know that the person is qualified to help me.