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Nearly 150 nurses facing redundancy from NHS Direct


Hundreds of members of staff at a failed provider to the troubled NHS 111 helpline have been told that they face losing their jobs.

The 111 service was thrown into turmoil last July after NHS Direct announced it was planning to pull out of its contracts due to severe financial problems.

In October, the organisation announced that it is to close after projecting a £26m deficit for this financial year.

A spokeswoman said: “NHS Direct has today written to around 500 employees, including around 140 nurses, giving them formal notice that they are at risk of redundancy at the end of March.

“The final number of redundancies is likely to be less than this, since we are seeking to mitigate as many redundancies as possible by supporting these staff to find alternative employment within the wider NHS.

“At this stage we do not know what the final number of redundancies will be as it is dependent on several factors including the number of ‘at risk’ staff who obtain suitable alternative employment elsewhere.”

The spokeswoman said that most staff facing redundancy are not currently working on the 111 service and added that the largest group at risk of losing their jobs were back office staff.

NHS Direct currently employs 700 workers, with 200 already set to avoid being made redundant by NHS Direct by being transferred to patient service jobs with other providers.

The 111 line, which replaced NHS Direct as the number to call for urgent but non-emergency care, has been riddled with controversy since its inception on April 1 last year.

It suffered many teething problems, with patients complaining of calls going unanswered, poor advice given and calls being diverted to the wrong part of the country.

Just a month after its launch, leading medics warned that the “problematic” roll-out of the system left many patients not knowing where to turn.

In addition, NHS England was forced to launch an investigation into the advice line after a number of potentially serious incidents, including three deaths, were linked to the service.

NHS Direct originally won 11 of the 46 contracts across England to provide the 111 service.

But in July last year, it announced it would be unable to provide the service in North Essex, Cornwall, Somerset, Buckinghamshire, east London and the City, south east London, Sutton and Merton, West Midlands, Lancashire and Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire.

The cost of re-tendering the contracts for the non-emergency telephone service is likely to cost the health service millions of pounds, according to a British Medical Journal (BMJ) investigation.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), claimed that 158 nursing staff at NHS Direct would lose their jobs.

He said: “This is sad news indeed for the individuals affected, and could to lead to patients seeing their NHS 111 service stretched even further.

“After the dismantling of NHS Direct, we’ve been left with a fragmented, localised NHS 111 service that offers uncertainty and inconsistency across many parts of the country.

“Soon we’re going to lose another 158 skilled nursing staff from a system that is already struggling to cope.

“What we need to see is investment into the service to get it up to standard and retain skilled nursing staff, not let them go.

“The RCN will continue to engage with providers to ensure that NHS 111 improves as a service.

“NHS Direct was a clinically-led national service copied across the world, and we believe that NHS patients deserve these standards of care from properly-trained nursing staff.”


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Readers' comments (11)

  • So the NHS is safe in your hands is it Cameron?

    Yet more nurses are going to pay for the failings of this Government to provide a safe health service to the tax payers of this country. This government will not be happy until all nurses are back where they were half a century ago - that is low paid ancilliary workers are are nothing but hand maidens for doctors, biding their time with vocational work until they get married and bring up children.

    And when that happens, the big corporations who are chomping at the bit to take over our NHS and make a big fat profit will reward these tory posh boys ten fold with financial returns.

    Roll on next year and the general election, so we can get rid of these public school boy millionaires who are trying to take us back to the 19th century.

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  • Well, that's NHS management bonuses paid for this coming years then...

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  • john warwick

    if the nurses gave good advice then the program would have worked

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  • anon:7-jan-2014, 10.13pm

    well said totally agree
    the quicker we can get rid of these eton toff's the better

    why would anybody vote for someone who is a millionaire and will never understand what its like to go to a food bank and choose between eating or heating

    I will cut the deficit not the NHS....yeh ok Dave!!!!

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  • And what is the RCN planning to do about these redundancies, yes you've guessed it, absolutely nowt!

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  • The nurses that are being made redundant work for the click to assess services for the symptoms checker, and NOT 111 , Nursing Times. They were promised that another providor would be taking them over, but NHS England decided at the last minute to decomission the nurses part of the service. Many of the nurses involved are highly experienced and have worked for NHSD for 12 years or more, and most have extensive experience in clinical areas. I would challenge people like John Warwick to try doing the job!

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  • john warwick

    At least I dont have to hide my name I speak it like it is and 12 yrs punching a computer compared to over20 plus years on the front lines in EMS and A&E And any time a person called the A&E and asked for advice I would always recommend attending better safe than sorry

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  • @John ah so that's why so many people are using A&E when they should be seeing their GPs.

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  • I worked for NHSD for about six weeks - money was fantastic but I bet a pet monkey could press computer keyboards nearly as quick as the nurses I met. Easiest money I have ever been paid - I nearly felt guilty by taking it at the end of the week.

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  • Anonymous | 13-Jan-2014 3:51 pm
    Actually NHSD was a nightmare to work for. 6 weeks might not actually have given you a real taste of the bullying management or the data manipulation which went on under pressure because of the DOH/DH demands. Yes, some of it was dead simple but when you are talking to your 30th mother with 5 kids with D&V and she wants them all assessed and to have the full works and this may be the 4th or 5th day of this particular outbreak, it gets a tad monotonous.

    John Warwick might think he knows so much but there were plenty of A&E nurses who worked at NHSD, I was one of them. And no, although it was a constant refrain that NHSD nurses told everyone to go to A&E, i think when the bulk of the service handed over to 111, the Ambulance service finally discovered what NHSD had protected them from!Some of them had the manners to retract their judgmental descriptions of the NHSD nurse too.

    When I worked there, there were a great many nurses who just longed to be made redundant and set free of the system just the same. It had its moments, but it didn't exactly provide wonderful mental stimulation and the Organization never thought it necessary to up date its staff on current medical practices either. they just shoved Information Governance down our throats - which played little part in our day to day work..

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