NHS Direct pulls out of 111 deal

The troubled NHS 111 telephone service was thrown into turmoil today as one of its main providers, NHS Direct, announced it was seeking to "withdraw from the contracts it entered into".

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  1. Chris Ship

Consensus on 111 concept but implementation 'rushed'

There is broad agreement here that the concept of 111 is a good idea: a short number that is easy to remember for non-emergency calls.

In fact, Labour proposed exactly that concept when they were in government.

The implementation, you'd have to say, has been a complete mess. Doctors' groups say it was rushed: we've gone from a national service to one that is locally commissioned.

Despite all that, ministers are still trying to distance themselves from the chaos. Health Minister Lord Howe is trying to pin the blame on NHS Direct for bidding too low:

If that is the case, why did nobody check whether the sums added up? That brings us back to the criticism that the whole thing was rushed.

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