A REPORT from the Bracknell and Ascot Clinical Commissioning Group (BACCG) has praised the new NHS 111 service - but members have acknowledged it still needs to be closely monitored.

At the group's governing body meeting on Wednesday, June 12, members were told that there has been a positive response from the public to the service since it first launched last month.

It replaces the old NHS Direct number and is for times when people need speedy medical help, but are not suffering a 999 emergency.

Eve Baker, chief finance officer for BACCG, said: "The service has now been rolled out across Berkshire. It's been a soft launch thus far, there hasn't been a lot of publicity around it, but there has been a strong performance."

She presented initial data from the May 2013 Accountable Officer Report which identified that between April 24-May 12, 2013, 96.63 per cent of calls were answered within 60 seconds.

This is above the national standard of 95 per cent.

The figures also showed that 4,129 calls were answered in that time period, of which: 3.7 per cent were directed to A&E within an hour, 6.7 per cent received home management advice and 3.9 per cent required an eight-minute 999 response.

But some members voiced concerns about whether people will know to call 999 or 111.

David Williams, director of commissioning and development for the BACCG, said: "We will review and monitor the service over the next few months to ensure sufficient care is still being provided for patients and to make sure they're being directed appropriately.

"It might be appropriate to bring back a more detailed report highlighting what has been monitored."

However, BACCG director Dr Martin Kittel pointed out that "no system is 100 per cent fool-proof" and added: "How many times do patients not accept they have to call 999?

"There will always be a small percentage of patients that are very difficult to reach to help them make the right decision about who to call and when."

The 111 service is set to get a full launch at the end of June.

CCGs are made up of doctors, nurses and other staff and replace primary care trusts.

Every GP practice is a member of a CCG.

They are responsible for planning and funding local health services.

The next BACCG governing body meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 14, at the Bracknell Forest Council offices, in Easthampstead House.