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NHS Direct cancels all NHS 111 contracts

NHS Direct cancels all NHS 111 contracts


NHS Direct will pull out of nine NHS 111 contracts because of “severe problems” and the cash flow of the service. 

The contracts have proved to be “financially unsustainable”, NHS Direct has claimed. 

The organisation is seeking to agree “managed transfers” of the services and the staff running them to other providers.

Just last month NHS Direct wrote to commissioners in North Essex and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to say the costs of providing the service exceeded the contracted price. 

NHS Direct is currently delivering NHS 111 in: 

  • Buckinghamshire
  • East London
  • The City of London
  • South East London
  • Sutton and Merton
  • West Midlands 
  • Lancashire and Cumbria 
  • Greater Manchester 
  • Merseyside and Cheshire 
  • Somerset 

However, the organisation said it will continue to provide the web, mobile and telephone services which complement NHS 111. 

Earlier this month the organisation said 30-40% fewer calls than expected were coming in, leading to lower income. 

NHS Direct used to be paid more than £20 per call on the previous number, but is credited between £7 and £9 per call on the recently launched non-emergency helpline. 

Nick Chapman, NHS Direct chief executive said: "We will continue to provide a safe and reliable NHS 111 service to our patients until alternative arrangements can be made by commissioners. Whatever the outcome of the discussions on the future, patients will remain the central focus of our efforts, together with protecting our staff who work on NHS 111 to ensure that the service will continue to benefit from their skills and experience.” 

After the launch of NHS 111 it was revealed that NHS Direct – after winning 11 out of 46 contracts – did not have the capacity to handle all of the calls received. 

Calls had to be handed back to GP out-of-hours organisations. However, service improved. Since April, the service answered more than 99% of calls within 60 seconds. 

Commissioning group representatives have yet to comment.


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