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NHS England today pledged to support commissioners of NHS 111 services to put in place alternative providers to take over the 111 services provided by NHS Direct to patients. This follows an announcement by NHS Direct that they are seeking to gradually withdraw from their remaining contracts for the NHS 111 service.
The decision has been taken by NHS Direct as they are unable to deliver the service within the agreed contract price.
Callers to the 111 number in the areas currently served by NHS Direct will continue to receive a prompt and safe service.
Local GP-led clinical commissioning groups, supported by NHS England, are now actively discussing with a range of potential providers the best way to continue providing a high quality 111 service for patients.
Dame Barbara Hakin, NHS England’s Deputy Chief Executive said:
“Over 90 percent of NHS 111 calls are now answered in under a minute and patients are rating the service highly. Our immediate focus is to ensure that this level of service and improvement is delivered consistently.
“We are working closely with the Trust Development Authority and the Board of NHS Direct to ensure that NHS Direct continues to provide a safe, high quality service to patients while, alternative, long-term, providers are secured. We have been in discussions with NHS Direct for some time over this issue and they have assured us they are committed to continue to provide services. We are also having constructive discussions with a number of potential new providers who could take on these contracts, specifically with the local ambulance trusts who have experience and a strong track record in provision of similar services
“I want to reassure callers to 111 that, regardless of today’s announcement, a full 111 service will be available throughout the transition. The public should not feel any detrimental effects of changes in the providers of the service.
“This decision has been taken by all parties to make sure that 111 delivers a sustainable high level of service to all callers in the years ahead.”
NHS Direct’s current contracts will come to an end in a planned and managed way throughout 2013/14.