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More than half of NHS Direct nurses could be made redundant

More than half of NHS Direct staff face being made redundant after a failure to reach agreement on their transfer to non-NHS providers of the new NHS 111 phone number.

The non-emergency telephone number is due to replace NHS Direct’s 0845 number from March next year. NHS Direct won more NHS 111 contracts than any other provider but will only be covering a third of the country.

Contracts in other areas have been won by a mixture of NHS ambulance trusts and independent sector GP out-of-hours providers.

Around 750 nurse adviser and call handler posts will be put at risk.

In an email sent to staff this morning, chief executive Nick Chapman said staff transfers to ambulance trusts, which had won 111 contracts, would go ahead. 

But he said the “movement of staff to non-NHS providers (such as GP out-of-hours providers) have encountered legal problems relating to the protection of employment rights”.

He told staff that management had sought “a resolution of these problems with the Department of Health, but have not been able to find one”.  

Mr Chapman added: “The position which I can now confirm is that the movement of staff in the areas won by non-NHS providers will proceed now on a volunteers-only basis.”

This means staff will lose their NHS pensions and other terms and conditions.

Unison national officer Michael Walker urged health secretary Jeremy Hunt to step in and “stop this disaster”.

He said: “Axing dedicated hard working nurses is never a good idea at any time, but this will directly impact on patient care and patients will suffer needlessly.”

NHS Direct estimated decommissioning costs for 0845 would be £144m in a worst case scenario, where all staff had to be made redundant.

The organisation’s board had hoped most of this would be avoided through the transfer of staff under Cabinet Office Guidelines, which protect terms and conditions.

Sandra Maxwell, Unison convenor at NHS Direct, said: “Hundreds of dedicated nursing and NHS professionals are now to be made redundant at a huge cost, when their skills could be used within the new NHS111 service, if only the Department of Health took some decisive action.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter, said: “For a while we have said that the plans to replace NHS Direct with 111 are a mistake and will result in nothing more than a pale shadow of what NHS Direct is.

“We have always been huge supporters of NHS Direct and believe it has matured into a highly effective service providing tried and tested quality advice. 

“Everyone must be made aware that the government is effectively abolishing this vital service purely on a cost cutting basis. This is a foolish and ill conceived decision.”

A formal consultation with staff at risk of redundancy will begin on 3 December.

Readers' comments (15)

  • ask jeremy hunt to step in......
    yeh ok like he gives a toss about nurses!!!

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  • Its a bit cynical to start the mandatory consultation period on the 3rd of December which puts three bank holidays into the mix as well as the usual Christmas/New Year distractions.

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  • Sounds pretty much like any other consultation: its a 'like it or lump it' situation, 'we've already decided to stuff you for Xmas (like a turkey), but want to make it sound like you've been asked' and welcome to your Xmas / New Year bonus of losing your job. Maybe after the consultation period, we'd figure out how to get around redundancies with redeployments and if staff don't like it, tough they can quit - as we're pretty much dispensible + cost too much money :s

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  • read this

    you will be gobsmacked

    they have already advertised for these nurses replacements at £6.20 an hour and they are not even nurses

    please read this
    also for everything else that goes on under the tory nhs

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  • tinkerbell

    Are there still 'employment rights'? could have fooled me. A contract is no longer worth the paper it is written on.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 9-Nov-2012 11:42 pm

    Read it. Thanks for the link. Here's the advert. The hits just keep on coming.


    'This is a very interesting and challenging role and would suit you if you enjoy helping people and would like to work within the health service.

    We are working together with Conduit who supply call centre staff to work for NHS Direct Health-line.

    It's a very varied role as you can imagine and you’ll be given full training in how to handle non-urgent medical calls.

    You'll need to be flexible with regards to shifts as these can range from between 16 and 40 hours per week (currently working an average of 35 hours) and the shifts range from 4 to 10 hours per day. Shift rotas will be notified 2 weeks in advance.

    Initially starting off as a temporary worker and on successful completion of 12-week probationary period you will be offered a permanent contract.

    Your first 5 weeks will involve intensive training whereby you’ll be given training which will enable you to become a fully qualified Health Advisor. You’ll learn how to handle a range of non-urgent health situations responding to the new NHS Direct Line non-urgent 111 calls. During your 5-week training programme you’ll be paid £6.20 per hour. On successful completion of your training you will be paid £200+ lump sum. Thereafter the rate of pay is £7.70 per hour during the hours of 7 am and 11 pm and £9.70 per hour from 11 pm to 7 am.

    You’ll need to demonstrate your ability to keep calm under pressure, prove you’ve got good listening skills with strong sense of empathy.

    Thanks for viewing this position. If you apply we’ll endeavour to get in touch with you within 2 days. If you don’t hear from us, unfortunately, it means you’ve been unsuccessful on this occasion. Quality Personnel acting as an Employment Agency and Business'.

    they didn't mention the word 'demoralising' within the text i note, doing the same job but for less money with extended hours. Yippee!

    Save for later
    Email this job

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  • NHS Direct???
    I phoned them in the early hours of the morning, because I was constipated and suffering from severe, and agonising haemoroids. I could hardly stand, lie dowm or walk without excruciating in my you know what. I was told to insert a freeze pack up my back passage.... and there was nothing else they could do.
    |I could just imagine being found dead in the morning with an ice pack up me arse!!!!
    My wife laughed and so did I. There were tears streaming from our eyes, and the pain I experienced was horrendous., but do you know what? It was probably the best thing that happened aqfter making that call.. I had a massive BO, and the pain dissipated within a hour.
    Good on you NHS Nurses!

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  • tinkerbell

    Iama Cynic | 10-Nov-2012 1:27 pm

    Is it something in the water. I've just phoned NHS direct as been having right sided pain in abdomen and back which has been fluctuation on and off since yesterday when i got home from work, from mild to sever to nothing at all. No temperature but feel weak, shivery and shaky when the pain starts up again

    The NHS nurse was lovely, pleasant and advised me to phone my out of hours GP as may have a kidney infection. Felt like a bit of a fraud because by the time i decided to phone NHS direct this afternoon the pain had completely gone, but comes back every few minutes or so.

    Let's keep these NHS nurses in employment.Bless them.

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  • tinkerbell

    Out of hours GP just phoned me and thinks it's a gall stone. I think the service is wonderful, what's left of OUR NHS. Didn't mention that i know him as our out of hours GP for the ward i use to work on.

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  • public service announcement.... TRUST YOUR GOVERNMENT/NHS TRUST/UNION/MILITARY etc..etc..

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  • TRUST UR GOVT etc... bend over and take it like the good working class fodder that u r...

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  • there was a lot of nurses employed by NHS Direct who were unable to deliver deliver the physical aspects of working in a clinical setting. Surely the equality impact assessment of this move runs contrary to the DDA.

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  • Let's hope that they will get re-employed with the new companies so they will keep their jobs and get the redundancy... doubt it will be £450K like the BBC boss though! As usual, the calculation of saving money usually backfires on the NHS bosses when they have not thought changes through enough.

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  • So have the government found a way round TUPE which has always been used successfully in the past to protect T&C's when functions are transferred to non public bodies (at least for a while). Unison get your lawyers on this - could go to the European Courts?

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  • tinkerbell

    patrick newman | 12-Nov-2012 2:16 pm

    TUPE: The regulations' main aims are to ensure that,
    just because of the transfer, employees are not dismissed before or after (unless there is an 'economic, technical or organisational' reason, r 7(1)(b))
    employees' most important terms and conditions of contracts are not worsened before or after the transfer (unless there is an 'economic, technical or organisational' reason, r 4(4)(b))
    affected employees are informed and consulted through representatives'

    The answer lies within probably under 'economic' i think. This government will flout any agreements to suit their objectives.
    They are totally amoral.

    What about some austerity cuts for the rich?

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