A “record number” of people have used NHS 111 online since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, NHS Digital has said.
New figures show that between February 26 and August 11 more than 30 million users in England visited NHS 111 online, of which over six million completed an online coronavirus assessment and received advice based on their symptoms or travel history.
Usage hit a peak in mid-March with over the service being accessed more than 950,000 times a day – 95 times higher than would normally be expected.
NHS 111 online now gives patients access to both streams of the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service. An NHS Digital spokesperson told Pharmacy Network News there had been 3,520 pharmacist clinical assessments between May and July and 17,253 urgent prescription referrals between March and July.
NHS Digital said the service, which can be accessed via an app and website, has been updated throughout the pandemic to reflect emerging evidence and advice, such as new Covid-19 warning symptoms being added.
Meanwhile, a data dashboard reveals daily triage rates for coronavirus symptoms from both 111 online and the 111 phone service. It shows there were 4,584 triages on August 11, down from 128,429 on March 18 when NHS Digital began capturing usage data.
NHS Digital’s Ben Davison commented on the usage data: “These figures show how important the use of digital tools is in supplying vital health information to members of the public during this outbreak.
“Since the start of the pandemic we have seen the number of NHS 111 online users increase dramatically.
“This is helping to relieve the burden on frontline NHS services as well as helping to get vast numbers of people the correct advice for their condition.
“This is a fluid and fast-changing situation and we are working closely with NHSX, NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care and other organisations across the system to develop robust and resilient solutions to a range of new issues.”