back to article UK's non-emergency police and NHS Vodafone systems go titsup NATIONWIDE

Britain's non-emergency telephone numbers for the police (101) and the NHS (111) have collapsed nationwide. Vodafone engineers are currently attempting to bring the services back to life. A number of police forces confirmed the outage on Twitter, where they reminded folk not to "misuse" the 999 emergency number just because …

  1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Well known services...

    I thought they'd shutdown 101, and never knew 111 was NHS direct.

    Ho hum

    EDIT: It appears that the "National" NHS number doesn't apply to us here in Wales - I must have missed the independence referendum!

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Well known services...

      Of course it doesn't apply in Wales. The devolution referendum was years ago, and Health is a devolved matter. That's why we get free prescriptions here and the English NHS patients don't. I assume you don't visit the doctor very often.

      The NHS is a National service, i.e. the Wels nation has a national health service, ditto, the English nation and the scottish nation, and I assume the people of the north of Ireland.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Well known services...

        Errr, I know that, that, that, and errr that.

        And I said "independence", not "devolution", making a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the number being referred to as *National* in the context of "the whole country"

        Anyway, why "of course" does it not apply to Wales? Scotland has it, and we get it next year, which shows that your unnecessary lesson on the devolved NHS (which everyone with half a brain knows already) is entirely irrelevant.

        1. Chad H.

          Re: Well known services...

          Scotland doesnt have NHS direct. We have NHS 24, and they just recently changed to use the same number.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Well known services...

          So wales isn't a nation then?

          Just because it doesn't have its own navy doesn't mean you have to sing about the "quasi-autonomous partially devolved administrative sub-region of my fathers"

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    non emergency?

    im lonely, can i just phone em up for a chat?

  3. Alister Silver badge

    It would never have happened in my day, Strowger woudn't crash after an update :)

  4. frank ly Silver badge

    No problem

    I'm sure we can all remember what number to call.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: No problem

      Even without clicking, I think I know that link off by heart now...

      The phone number less so!

  5. tedjrr

    I know that Vodafone are getting the blame for this. Presumably this is part of the business they acquired from Useless & Gormless. Sorry, I meant.... well you know who I meant.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It is. And they've had years since then to invest in bringign all that infrastructure and processes up to scratch.

  6. John H Woods Silver badge

    RAC too.

    I had the misfortune to have a blowout 5 minutes into a 4 hour RAC outage earlier this year. They blamed 'Vodafone'. I told them I thought it was pretty unsatisfactory, given that their entire business model is answering the phone and dispatching patrols that they didn't have a backup.

    For instance, I could have tweeted them my location. At least they could have announced their outage on their website and I wouldn't have waited several hours before giving up and calling a taxi. I was also amused that they told me 'coordinates don't work' when I told them my location.

    Still, before I ramble off about that, my point is this: what is all this single-point-of-failure nonsense and could it possibly have anything to do with 'corporate cost control' being all the rage rather than an emphasis on achieving the business' publicly stated goals?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RAC too.

      Anyone else would have fitted the spare and carried on...

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: RAC too.

        You're assuming his car has a real one, and not one of those stupid "space-saver" things - or indeed nothing at all.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: RAC too.

          Don't you have one those things for changing a tyre?

          I believe they are called a chaffeur

      2. chriswakey

        Re: RAC too.

        My car only has a 'Slime Kit' repair kit, and no spare. Anything more than a minor puncture requires a call out.

        1. Zack Mollusc

          Re: RAC too.

          So did mine, until i bought a full-sized wheel to use as a spare.

      3. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: RAC too.

        "Anyone else would have fitted the spare and carried on..."

        Since you appear so interested: I attached the tube of Tipp-Ex thoughtfully provided by Audi; attached the 12V inflator as instructed; and it all blew out of the tire all over the road. Obviously there are other circumstances that could have been impossible for a driver to even attempt a repair.

        If you are *really* interested, the situation was complicated by the fact that it is a company car, operated by Lex, whose 24 hour line goes straight through to the defunct RAC number. So I can't just call the AA, tell them the RAC are tossers and that I want to change membership. I can't have the car towed by A N Other contractor as I have no authority to do so, and no-one to contact to get that authority. It is a cabriolet, in the middle of nowhere, at 02:00 on a freezing cold winter night. I have two phones on two different networks, a blanket, water, chocolate. I think the idea that I was unprepared is ludicrous - my only mistake was giving the RAC so long to answer the phone before calling a cab, but I knew it was going tobe more than £100, and hard to reclaim (it was -- actually, I still haven't got it back).

      4. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: RAC too.

        I did walk past someone the other day who was watching while the AA man replaced their tire, with what looked very much like the spare (it was a newish Ford Fiesta, which I assume have a full size spare).

        I was very close to stopping and asking why they hadn't done it themselves.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RAC too.

      The thing about these telephony control systems is that they are resiliant... up to a point. Typically they have active/inactive sides. But, ya know what.... both sides are usually running the same software and share the same database and call states.. So good for physical breaks but not so good at application layer issues...

  7. Chris G Silver badge

    I know Vodafone well

    Well at least in Spain!

    The usual cause of lack of service is because their computer has decided that you haven't paid the bill/ paid it fast enough/ paid enough of it etc , it will then cut you off.

    To have the service re-instated you will have to pay another, inflated bill, and then they will mull over reconnection over the next few days while telling you the service HAS been re-instated.

    I dread to think of the results if they ran the 999 service, if that happens buy some carrier pigeons, much more reliable and faster than paying a kid with a forked stick to run to the police/fire/hospital to tell them where you are having your emergency.

  8. Andy Miller

    Anyone else?

    I got a similar message this morning from the Nationwide BS. Are they using the same service provider?

    1. Chad H.

      Re: Anyone else?

      A lot of companies 0800 numbers went out.

  9. chriswakey


    Possibly a coincidence, but 3 (both 3G & 4G) has been down in a load of areas for several hours now...apparently EE is also having problems....

  10. Grease Monkey

    Surely they don't rely on a single call routing database? As far as I can see the only thing that could cause an outage of NGN routing on this scale would be the loss of the database that ties the non-geographic numbers to ordinary directory numbers - depending of course on the source number. That being the case it makes you wonder why it took so long to get it back on line.

    1. Skoorb

      Well, it's a bit more complicated for 111 and 101. Depending where you are in the country (which can be down to which London Borough you are currently in, only a few square miles) the 111 call needs to be routed to a different provider (111 is technically commissioned locally by CCGs for some reason, it's only 'national' in Scotland).

      In this case, they activated a (version of) the backup plan, slammed all 111 calls through to the Scottish service, where a recorded message told you (in a scottish accent) to call the national backup number operated by the HSCIC at 0300 020 0155.

      Luckily, the 999 system is much more resilient, and (as of this year) Vodafone (the ex Cable and Wireless bit) are no longer providing the Operator Assistance Centres that handle and route the calls.

      1. Grease Monkey

        Did you read my post? The lookup is for the dialled number and the originating number. Destination and source. This is very common and not unique to 111 & 101. Plenty of businesses will try to route you to your local office in a similar way.

        The lookups for 999 as every source DN must have an address lookup for 999 (not mobiles of course). It's up to the service provider to supply these details.

  11. Rolf Howarth

    The good thing about memorable numbers is we can change them every few years to keep people on their toes. And remember, nobody cares about reliable, what we all want is cheap.

  12. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    On a brighter note...

    ...all these reports from commentards about various phone services going tits up today might explain why we've not had a single spam phonecall today.

  13. DocJames

    Tomorrow's story:

    A+E attendances at RECORD LOWS!

    Within the healthcare professions, it is known as NHS Redirect to A+E. Turns out that triage is quite hard, and a safe protocol is hugely, unbelievably, monstrously overcautious.

  14. Timmay


    Vodafone. Say no more.

  15. Florida1920 Silver badge

    Who ya gonna call?

    1. Rabbit80

      Try 0118 999 881 999 119 725 3

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "we apologise for any inconvenience caused"

    "ANY inconvenience"? Meaning some but possibly none?

    "Any INCONVENIENCE"? Meaning their service provides nothing more than convenience?

    So according to their own apology, Vodafone's service is a convenience aid that possibly no one is using.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A ray of light, but not hope

    We've just had a 24-hour Vodafone (nee C&W) landline outage. Interesting points appeared to be:

    a) Calls to landlines failed, no error tones etc. Calls to Vodafone mobiles continued working. Calls to other mobiles were part-working.

    b) Reporting the problem out-of-hours got sympathy but nothing useful. Reporting the problem in office hours resulted in our being told that the operations centre was offshore. My suspicion is that the only time anything can be done is a very limited window when *both* UK and offshore technical staff are available... I don't want to speculate but the problem both occured and was fixed in the 21-23:00 GMT timeframe.

    So the real question is: have the police and others put all their eggs in a basket being carried by somebody who can only undertake corrective action for a few hours every day? And if so, what's to be done about it?

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