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.