NHS Direct nurses who have stepped into the breach following the disastrous launch of NHS 111 despite facing redundancy have been praised at the Royal College of Nursing Congress.
NHS 111 was due to replace NHS Direct’s 0845 number by 1 April in all but two small areas of England. However, at least half of the country was not ready to go fully live in time and NHS Direct nurses and call handlers have been asked to step in to help provide a contingency service.
Most frontline NHS workers are facing downbanding if they continue to work for NHS Direct to deliver the 111 service or redundancy.
RCN council member Ian Norris told Congress the RCN had been warning that the set up of NHS 111 wouldn’t work.
He said: “The nurses are still going to work to make sure we had a service to patients when they were being got rid of themselves.”
Chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said NHS Direct nurses had suffered “grievously”.
“What’s so tragic is that NHS Direct had matured into a highly effective system that was liked by the public. For some bizarre reason it was dismantled and what was put in its place was a shambles.”