One of Dacorum’s leading health campaigners has found the 111 telephone service wanting – when she needed to call it twice over the Christmas break.
Edie Glatter, of the New Hospital Campaign, called 111 at around 10.30am on Christmas Eve on the advice of her pharmacist.
But she was told that she faced a wait of up to six hours to speak to someone medically qualified – and then had to call three times before finally speaking to a pharmacist and getting a prescription at 8pm.
Mrs Glatter had a second problem on Boxing Day when her condition got worse, but was told that there were no appointments for the out-of-hours GP service at Hemel Hempstead and was offered an 11.30pm appointment in Watford.
Mrs Glatter told the Gazette: “I just hope I’m never again ill during a public holiday.
“I was impressed by the calm, patient and caring way the staff behaved even though they were clearly under terrible pressure.
“But clearly there are not the staffing levels at 111 to cope with the demand – even though we were always promised there would be.”
A spokesman for Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The NHS111 service was under significant pressure over the Christmas period.
“At certain times the 111 service was extremely busy. Because NHS111 is a national service, the Hertfordshire service was also taking overflow calls from elsewhere as services across the country came under pressure.
“The Hertfordshire service took 6,814 calls from December 23-26.”