Increasing privatisation of the health service is leading to many changes for NHS Direct staff.
At NHS Direct, the call centre service for members of the public, around 1,100 nurses are being asked to change their shift patterns and conditions of work in order to better “compete” with other public sector groups and businesses to provide the 111 service.
Management want to rewrite the contracts of around 2,300 frontline workers and restructure the working day in order to swing the emphasis of NHS Direct to an out-of-hours service. To this end, it is in the middle of a 90-day consultation with staff.
The 0845 number is being replaced by 111 in April 2013 when the service is opened up to the private sector. Half of NHS Direct workers have restricted hours thanks to their historical employment contracts, although according to management, this “severely limits the ability to staff contact centres during the busiest periods of the current service and future service plans”.
A spokeswoman for the service said: “We are preparing the organisation for a change in operating model because early findings of the 111 pilots suggest it will be a more out-of-hours service.
“This consultation outlines a set of proposals about how to staff a 111 service, and we are really engaging with staff on how we are going to make this work.”