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 collected information on user satisfaction with their telephone enquiry service since 2002. The aim is to establish service performance, user requirements and expectations and identify areas for improvement. This report provides the results of the stakeholder quality assurance questionnaire exercise for 2016/17, in line with PHE contractual arrangements.


During the 2016/17 reporting year, 43,610 patient specific enquiries were answered, slightly lower than the previous year (46,885). There were 2,811 questionnaires sent out and 682 responses received, giving a response rate of 24.3%, similar to the response rate for 2015/16 (23.5%). The designation of responders reflected the profile of service users, with the most common responder groups being General Practitioners (33.2%) and NHS 111 nurses (16.2%).


A slight improvement was noted in the proportion of respondents checking TOXBASE before ringing the service, which increased to 52.6% compared to 50.1% the previous year. Of those who had checked TOXBASE prior to telephoning the service, 55.3% cited the reason for phoning to be insufficient information on TOXBASE to answer their enquiry. Other reasons were: special circumstances or other reasons (31.6% vs 36.2% in 2015/16), inability to interpret the information on TOXBASE (9.8% vs 6.6% in 2015/16), a local protocol to call NPIS (2.8% vs 2.2% in 2015/16) and the perception that information on TOXBASE contradicted other information they had (0.5% vs 2.2% in 2015/16). The reasons reported for not accessing TOXBASE before telephoning the NPIS 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 all parameters assessed resulting in satisfaction scores exceeding the results of 2015/16.


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 98.9%, compared to 98.4% last year (Table 2). Figure 1 below represents the overall quality scores for the individual units.


Table 2. Satisfaction scores 2015/16 vs 2016/17

*satisfaction score is the proportion of respondents who agree ‘completely’ (6) or ‘a lot’ (5) [excluding non-respondents]



Figure 1. Overall quality scores for 2016/17 for the four NPIS units expressed as a proportion of respondents scoring 5 of 6 (non-respondents excluded from the denominator)


As in previous years, the response rate, although typical of surveys of this type, was low and this may introduce bias, which could be in either direction. Respondents continue to have a very high level of satisfaction with the service, both overall and for each of the specific issues enquired about. User satisfaction was high for calls dealt with by all the NPIS units.


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