Staff at Dorset’s NHS 111 service are resigning because of increased pressure on calls, new figures show.

At a recent meeting of the people and culture committee of South Western Ambulance Service (SWAST), director of HR Amy Beet noted that turnover in 111 was running at 35.79 per cent.

This, committee members noted, was because that staff were leaving as their experience of working in the 111 environment was different from what they expected.

In response, Clare Melbourne, deputy director of HR said that a piece of work was being undertaken to look at introducing onboarding in high turnover areas, to understand better the experiences for new starters and to put in the necessary interventions.

She added: “It is thought they are more likely to stay if they get past their first year of employment.”

A spokesman for SWAST said their staff were the greatest and most important asset to the service.

They added: “We could not deliver our services without them and we invest a great deal in making sure our staff are safe and supported.

“We absolutely recognise the increasing pressure that our staff are under and are working hard to address this and ensure our staff are supported.”

NHS 111 is a 24-hour helpline for patients who need medical help but do not need to call 999, taking over from NHS Direct and GP out-of-hours services in 2014.

The service has become increasingly popular with staff Dorset handling 15,904 calls in June 2018, up from 17,415 four years earlier.

The service is commissioned by local clinical commissioning groups, which make spending decisions for local health services while they are run by ambulance trusts, GP surgeries and private healthcare companies.

The findings come despite the county’s NHS 111 service being ranked good for providing, safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led services.

During the inspection, which took place on May 2, inspectors found that the service had a clear management structure in place with proactive engagement and involvement of frontline staff to influence and participate in improvements and change.