Provider of NHS 111 services in North Somerset rated 'Outstanding' by independent regulator

Practice Plus Group - NHS 111 South West, who have a contact centre in Bristol and answer NHS 111 calls from people across the South West, were found to be safe, effective, caring, responsive, and well-led by the Care Quality Commission.
People using headsets and looking at computer screens in a call centre

Practice Plus Group - NHS 111 South West are part of Practice Plus Group Urgent Care Limited, who have four call centres in England - Ipswitch, Dorking, Southall, and the South West call centre in Bristol. The group receive more than 1.6 million NHS 111 calls per year. 

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can contact 111 via phone or online. NHS 111 can tell you which local health service can help you (such as which local pharmacy is open on a bank holiday), connect you to a medical practitioner such as a GP or emergency dentist, and arrange an arrival time at A&E for you to ensure you don't have to wait longer than necessary for treatment.

The South West location provides urgent health advice for people in Bristol, North Somerset, South Glos (BNSSG), Gloucestershire and Somerset. The area covers 2.2. million people.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an announced inspection of Practice Plus Group - NHS 111 South West in December 2021. The CQC is the independent regulator of health and social care in England, and they assess service providers on their performance in five areas: whether they are safe, effective, caring, responsive to people's needs, and well-led. 

Overall rating: outstanding

  • Safe: outstanding
  • Effective: good
  • Caring: good
  • Responsive: good
  • Well-led: outstanding.

Click here to view the report on the CQC website.

During the inspection, the CQC found that Practice Plus Group - NHS 111 South West had effective systems to safeguard children and vulnerable adults from harm. If there was a safeguarding concern, the provider would pass this on to the appropriate person or organisation, such as the person's GP surgery or social services.

The report stated: 'Patients received coordinated and person-centred care. This continued when they moved between services, when they were referred, or after they were discharged from hospital. Care and treatment for patients in vulnerable circumstances was coordinated with other services.'

Staff took steps to protect patients from the risk of abuse, neglect, harassment, discrimination, and breaches of their dignity and respect. They knew how to identify and mange patients with severe infections, such as sepsis, and patients were prioritised for appropriate care or treatment in accordance with their need. Staff were skilled in signposting patients to seek further help, and advised patients what to do it their condition deteriorated.

Where patients needs could not be met by the service, staff redirected them to the appropriate service for their needs such as the social services, stoma care nurse, mental health crisis teams, Out of Hours GPs, dentists, pharmacists, the Police, or the local Integrated Urgent Care Clinical Assessment Service (CAS)
— Practice Plus Group - NHS 111 South West Inspection report, published 16.03.2022

The inspection report praised staff for ensuring 'patients were treated with dignity and their diverse needs were recognised and respected.'

The CQC found that staff treated patients with kindness and compassion. Practice Plus Group - NHS 111 South West's patient survey for November 2021 showed that 68% of patients had a good or very good experience, based on responses from 381 patients.

The CQC also said that the services was responsive to people in vulnerable circumstances. The average speed to answer calls ranged from 213 seconds to 366 seconds. The report acknowledged that this was not meeting the minimum target of 20 seconds, but said that it was faster than the national average.

Staff felt respected, supported, and valued. The service took complaints and concerns seriously and responded to them to improve the quality of care. Over the previous year, the service had received 102 complaints and 40 compliments.

In November and December 2021, we collected feedback from people using the A&E department at Southmead hospital. We heard from 101 people, and found that most people had contacted either a GP or NHS 111 before presenting at A&E.

Click here to read our report.

Comments from our report regarding NHS 111:

  • "So quick today, chat with 111 operator and a follow up call within 1 minute by ambulance person - amazing!"
  • "111 told me to ring GP, GP told me to come to minor injuries unit/A&E"
  • "The paramedics that were sent me 111 spoke to an out-of-hours GP who advised them to take me there"
  • "NHS 111 didn't really say much other than to to A&E which I kind of knew already as I was in pain. But good for early hours and called back within 10 mins"
  • "I spoke with 111 and although they said I had been referred to this hospital, when I arrived there was no record of me"
  • "111 - did not get through, the line was so busy, gave up and went straight to A&E"

Based on our research, our recommendations for NHS 111 included:

  • that NHS 111 proactively help people to manage complex and/or long-term conditions by signposting them to support and advice
  • that NHS 111 triages people more accurately and refers them to more suitable services

Click here to find out more about NHS 111.

If you have recently called NHS 111, please tell us about the experience - good or bad - by clicking the pink 'Talk to us' button below and filling in our short form.

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