A new, free phone number for out of hours healthcare has been rolled out in Pembrokeshire with 323 cases in its first week.

The 111 out of hours GP service had been launched in Carmarthenshire in May with some opposition from doctors but Pembrokeshire locality Hywel Dda Community Health Council (CHC) members were told this week the situation had improved.

At its meeting on Wednesday (November 7) CHC members heard that the 111 scheme had been rolled-out in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion on October 31 providing access to out of hours doctors and NHS Direct service in one place.

Nick Williams-Davies, Hywel Dda out of hours manager said that staffing issues, particularly in Carmarthenshire, had been resolved and there was a “return to a more stable staffing structure.”

Prior to the full health board region roll out meetings were held with GPs and “any sort of collective hostility that was felt was worn away by talking to them individually and understanding their massive importance to us,” added Mr Williams-Davies.

When a patient rings 111 trained call handlers take the initial details with further nurse triage available, along with access to advance paramedic practitioners, pharmacists and GPs.

National 111 manager Steve James said the scheme was a collaboration between the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and health boards which differed from England’s 111 service as it was “heavily clinically focused.”

From its launch on October 31 to 8am on Monday (November 5) 323 cases from Pembrokeshire had been dealt with, 38 per cent using self care advice and prescription.

This left 201 to be dealt with by the 111 medical team, said Mr James.

He added that there had been some “teething issues” with the volume of calls much higher than expected, possibly down to the health board’s “highest reach on social media” of around 65,000 people.

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