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Inquiry into 111 catastrophe

NHS emergency care faces an inquiry from MPs as fears grow that catastrophic failings in the operation of the new 111 helpline are putting patients at risk, The Telegraph reports.

Desperately-ill patients claim to have been left waiting hours while others said they had gone to A&E themselves after repeated failed attempts to get an adequate response via the 111 number.

StephenDorrell, the chairman of the Commons health select committee said MPs were hearing that too many cases are being referred to emergency services, and too few serious cases are being properly identified – resulting in ambulances sent out needlessly in may cases - including for an ingrown toenail and a cat with diarrhoea.

The 111 phoneline was designed by ministers to relieve pressure on A&E units, but recent data show that in the past six months, waiting times at A&E departments have risen nearly 30% compared with the same time last year.