NHS Direct pulls out of 111 deals

The organisation due to run the NHS non-emergency helpline in Cornwall and Somerset has pulled out.

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Cornish MP cautious over new NHS 111 contracts

Competitive tendering is creating a race to the bottom. The NHS needs to be reintegrated not further fragmented into multiple tendered contracts.

It would be idiotic to continue having separate contracts for the handling of ambulance, urgent care and out-of-hours GP services, whilst hospital emergency departments continue to struggle.

– Andrew George, Conservative MP for West Cornwall.

The NHS has been divvied up into business units under successive Governments. This has spawned a culture more concerned with 'working to contract' than working in the patient's best interests.

But it doesn't have to be like this. We should be pulling services back together rather than grinding on with this failed dogma."

– Andrew George, Conservative MP for West Cornwall.


Statement on Somerset's withdrawal from 111

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


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'Constructive discussions' with new 111 providers

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
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111 services 'absolutely vital source of information'

The 111 service is an absolutely vital source of information and reassurance to the British public, especially for those who cannot easily get out and about to visit their GPs.

If people don't have confidence in it, or if it's not available in their area, then they will present at A&E instead, putting further strain on already stretched services.

The British Red Cross is calling on the government to ensure more preventative services are in place for everyone in or at risk of a health crisis, and the 111 line is one of them.

– British Red Cross Managing Director Mike Adamson
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