NHS Direct, which manages a third of England’s NHS 111 helpline services, has announced that it is to withdraw from its 111 contracts.
It will not affect the delivery of the 111 service in Somerset but it does means Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will have to find another provider.
I would like to reassure the people of Somerset that despite NHS Direct announcing that contractual difficulties have forced it to withdraw from providing the 111 service to Somerset, the service is continuing to operate as normally.
As an interim measure, we are holding talks with the South Western Ambulance Services NHS Foundation Trust with a view to ensuring the 111 service in Somerset continues to deliver a safe and prompt service.
In the coming months Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group will be preparing to go out to tender again to secure a new provider of its 111 service.
– Dr Ed Ford, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group’s GP Lead for 111
NHS England pledged to support the commissioners of 111 services to put in place alternative providers.
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
– Dame Barbara Hakin, NHS England’s Deputy Chief Executive
NHS Direct is due to make a statement within the next half an hour regarding the non-emergency 111 helpline.
Earlier this month NHS Direct announced it would not be able to initiate contracts in Cornwall and North Essex.
A statement said: "NHS Direct have written to commissioners in Cornwall and North Essex advising them that they are unable to initiate contracts for the NHS 111 service because they cannot be delivered for the resources within the contracts."
But now it is also planning to stop providing the service in Somerset, Buckinghamshire, east London and the City, south-east London, Sutton and Merton, West Midlands, Lancashire and Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire.