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New telephone triage service refuses to take on NHS Direct nurses

NHS Direct has asked the Department of Health to get involved in a row over the transfer of nurses to the new non-emergency NHS 111 telephone number.

North East Ambulance Service Foundation Trust and GP out of hours provider Northern Doctors Urgent Care won a contract to provide the service in the North East late last year. NHS 111 is due to replace NHS Direct’s 0845 number by April 2013.

Last week Nursing Times revealed staff in the region still did not know their fate more than four months after the contract was awarded.

The story led NHS Direct chief executive Nick Chapman to write to staff in the region. The letter, seen by Nursing Times, confirmed that although the new providers had agreed to take on non-clinical NHS Direct health advisors to work on the new NHS 111 service, they had initially refused to take on nurses or line managers.

Mr Chapman wrote: “NHS Commissioners in the North East to date have declined our urging to resolve this situation. We have therefore asked the Department of Health to become directly involved.”

The local commissioner, primary care trust cluster NHS County Durham and Darlington, told Nursing Times on Friday that the new providers had changed their position and had now agreed to take on 20 nurses.

However, the Royal College of Nursing believes 49 nurses are affected in total, meaning 29 could face redundancy in April 2013. RCN northern region director Glenn Turp said the college was “concerned” by the situation and was seeking clarification.

A spokeswoman for NHS Direct said talks were still ongoing.

Readers' comments (4)

  • David Hickson

    This is an inevitable consequence of the abolition of the NHS Direct telephone advice and information service.

    111 is only to address "urgent" needs, rather than being an even more expensive replacement for the well respected, but over-costly, NHS Direct service.

    Nick Chapman has fought hard to protect his empire by trying to get 111 upgraded to be a full "NHS Direct-like" service. It is however a sad fact that unless the government and we (as taxpayers) are prepared to put vastly more money into the NHS it will end up being killed through being too expensive.

    This is not an easy issue to address, but I am not prepared to see the NHS cat being killed by being filled with cream, when its very survival depends on it being slimmed a little.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • David Hickson

    This is an inevitable consequence of the abolition of the NHS Direct telephone advice and information service.

    111 is only to address "urgent" needs, rather than being an even more expensive replacement for the well respected, but over-costly, NHS Direct service.

    Nick Chapman has fought hard to protect his empire by trying to get 111 upgraded to be a full "NHS Direct-like" service. It is however a sad fact that unless the government and we (as taxpayers) are prepared to put vastly more money into the NHS it will end up being killed through being too expensive.

    This is not an easy issue to address, but I am not prepared to see the NHS cat being killed by being filled with cream, when its very survival depends on it being slimmed a little.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Because NHS Direct is staffed with registered nursing staff it is equipped to resolve over 50% of the medical enquiries that it receives without simply passing them on to GPs and A& E.

    If the 111 Service uses only non medically trained Admin Staff alone, then it will have very limited added value and can only act as a post box forwarding on medical enquiries to GPs and A&E.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • If I am ill I refuse to give my personal details and medical symptoms to some person I have never met with no medical qualificatons at some remote call centre. I hope they are not going to be staffed by foreigners who one can't even understand. it is bad enough with the bank and BT and I object to being called Mam this and Mam that every two seconds.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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