National Poisons Information Service

A service commissioned by Public Health England




Members of the public

seeking specific

information on poisons

should contact:


In England and Wales:

NHS 111 - dial 111


In Scotland:

NHS 24 - dial 111


In N Ireland:

Contact your local GP or

pharmacist during

normal hours; click here

(www.gpoutofhours for GP

services Out-of-Hours.


In Republic of Ireland:

01 809 2166



professionals seeking

poisons information

should consult:

Feedback from users - telephone enquiry service

NPIS units have performed an annual stakeholder quality assurance exercise since 2002 to evaluate user satisfaction and service performance and to identify areas for improvement. This section details the findings of the 2015/16 national quality assurance exercise conducted in line with PHE contractual arrangements.


A random sample of telephone enquiries was selected using the same methodology for each unit. The aim was to survey 5% of telephone enquiries received by the Birmingham, Cardiff and Newcastle units and 10% of enquiries received by Edinburgh (to obtain an adequate sample size because it is not open 24/7 and therefore takes fewer telephone enquiries).


Between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, a total of 46,885 patient-specific enquiries were answered, similar to the number for 2014/15 (46,711). There were 3,054 questionnaires sent out and 718 responses received, giving a response rate of 23.5%, slightly lower than the response rate of 26.6% achieved last year but generally typical of a survey of this type. The most common responder groups were general practitioners (30.9% of all responses), NHS 111 nurses (15.2%) and other nurses (13.1%). 


Overall, those checking TOXBASE before telephoning the service increased further this year to 50.1%, compared to 48.4% during 2014/15. Of the 50.1% respondents who checked TOXBASE prior to telephoning the service, 194 (52.9%) users cited the reason for phoning to be inadequate information on TOXBASE for their enquiry, a slight increase on the figure for last year (51.2%). Other commonly chosen reasons were: special circumstances for the call (36.2% vs 36.3% in 2014/15), inability to interpret information on TOXBASE (6.6% vs 8.1% in 2014/15), a local protocol to call NPIS (2.2% vs 4.0% in 2014/15) and the information on TOXBASE contradicted other information they had (2.2% vs 1.1% in 2014/15).


The reasons noted for not accessing TOXBASE before telephoning the NPIS directly are presented in Table 1.


Table 1. Reasons why telephone enquirers did not consult TOXBASE first


To evaluate user satisfaction, respondents were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements relating to the particular enquiry they made to the NPIS. The responses received demonstrate excellent satisfaction with the way the enquiry was dealt with, with the majority of variables assessed resulting in satisfaction scores exceeding the results of 2014/15 (Table 2).


Table 2. Satisfaction scores 2014/15 vs 2015/16
*satisfaction score is the proportion of respondents who agree ‘completely’ (6) or ‘a lot’ (5) [excluding non-respondents]


Overall user satisfaction with the service was graded using a scale of one to six, with one indicating a very poor service and six an excellent service. The overall satisfaction rating of users grading the service a five or a six (excluding non-respondents) was 98.4%, compared with 97.2% last year.



Respondents continue to have a very high level of satisfaction with the service overall and for individual elements of the survey. User satisfaction was high for calls handled by all the NPIS units. As in previous years, the low response rate could potentially introduce bias in either direction.


Information from the NPIS Annual Report 2015/16.


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