THE problems with the new 111 health service phone line to replace NHS Direct continue to cause alarm.

The warnings were there just before it became operational that it wasn’t ready and we have already now had two stories showing long waits for treatment in Huddersfield that could have ended in tragedy.

In the latest, 78-year-old Sheila Peace waited 14 hours for an out-of-hours GP visit and is now in intensive care.

The health service is keen for people to use 111 as an alternative to the 999 system which is often abused. The problem seems to be that those who are having the main problems are from the generation who want to ‘do the right thing’ and would be less likely to phone up again and keep complaining if they felt the service was letting them down.

The 111 line will only work if people have confidence in it, but that confidence is already looking shaky.