Two-hour targets to find appointments for callers to an out of hours urgent care phone line are “hard to meet” at weekends in the county.

Callers to the out of hours non-emergency 111 line in Shropshire, are finding it hard to be dealt with in the allotted targeted time, a meeting of Shropshire Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee was told.

The service was taken on by Care UK after Shropdoc stopped running the out of hours service in the county.

It was then handed to Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust in October 2018. 

But the new operators found weekends and Bank Holidays a struggle – and West Midlands Ambulance Service will take over the running from November.

Speaking at the meeting in Shrewsbury on Monday, Dr Simon Chapple, of Shropdoc, said: “It has been a hard handover in terms of weekends and Bank Holidays as shown in the three and six month reviews.

“Weekdays have been working well, but it has been the weekends where it has become unstuck.

“It wasn’t foreseen because it wasn’t forecast. When someone calls there is a two hour target time to find an appointment.

“Out of hours at the weekend in Shropshire this has been hard to meet.

“If the search for an appointment goes over two hours it flows back into the triage system and then they await a phone call.”

Fran Beck, executive lead commissioning for Telford Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “The good news is that this has been identified now and West Midlands Ambulance Service is taking over the running from November.

“As part of the handover they have already been working closely with us and patients are getting a call back off ambulance call handlers to let them know an ambulance is on the way if necessary.”

Taking over the service in November, ambulance bosses say integrating the 999 and 111 services in the West Midlands will lead to ‘significant improvements for patient care’.

Call handlers across three sites will be able to deal with both 999 and 111 calls and there will be retraining for all staff, West Midlands Ambulance Service said previously.

Health commissioners previously said WMAS will be able to draw on other health resources in the community, which could lead to fewer unnecessary ambulance journeys to A&E.