Students recruited for NHS 111

NHS 111 recruitment: ‘Students targeted’ in Kent

Recruitment of scholars to work at the new NHS non-emergency telephone service in Kent have been criticised.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb), which runs Kent’s service, has recruited 200 more call handlers.

However, it’s been accused by Medway Council of targeting students, with not enough training offered to new recruits.

Secamb said some “targeted recruitment” had taken place, but no “particular demographic” have been recruited.

Labour’s spokeswoman for health and community services at Medway Council, Teresa Murray, who also works at MidKent College, said the service wanted a versatile labour force.

“In my profession on the college we saw adverts coming in inviting kids to be recruited… when things began to get it wrong at 111 it was obvious the eight weeks training that each one of these workers had wasn’t adequate,” she said.

“Calls were getting dropped, people were being given information they weren’t ok with.

“Consequently, although the ambulance service deny this, we have seen A&E admissions rise.”

MidKent College, which has campuses in Medway and Maidstone, offers A-level and vocational courses for college kids aged 16 upwards.

‘Patients at risk’

Strood GP Dr Julian Spinks, who’s the vice chair of Kent Local Medical Committee, said call handlers has to be medically trained.

“There’s a danger that advice can be wrong and put patients in peril,” he said.

“On the other end of the spectrum because they’re having to err massively at the side of safety then patients turn out being sent to A&E.”

A spokeswoman for Secamb said it had worked hard to deal with any issues and concerns within the early stages of the hot service’s implementation.

She said: “This work has included the recruitment of extra staff to control a far higher demand than was anticipated.

“Now we have recruited to nearly all of these additional posts. Some of the roles are part time and weekend roles which suit some groups of folk.

“While some targeted recruitment can have taken place, we don’t have any policy to recruit from any particular demographic. All roles were freely available for anyone to use for via NHS jobs.”