Figures have revealed "chaos" in South West London following the launch of a new NHS helpline.

Nursing leaders are warning that a lack of expertise on the new 111 telephone advice service poses a threat to patient care.

The 111 line was brought in by the Government to combine the old NHS Direct helpline with out of hours GP care.

It will be run by private companies in many parts of London and largely by call centre staff with no nurse training.

Health magazine, Pulse, has revealed data showing the extent of problems with the helpline in London over the Easter weekend.

The problems were particularly severe in south-west London where figures reveal a day over Easter when only 30 per cent of calls were answered in under 60 seconds.

On one day 22 per cent of callers gave up.

One caller waited over 21 minutes before anyone answered the phone and another caller had to wait three and a half hours before they received a call back.

Royal College of Nursing London director Bernell Bussue said: “These problems pose a clear threat to patient care and the other result will be further pressure on the capital’s already overstretched A&E units.” 

Have you had problems with the new NHS 111 system? Call the newsdesk on 0208 722 6358 or email