Direct GP booking to be piloted for NHS 111

Direct booking of GP call-backs and out-of-hours appointments will be tested at scale under a series of pilots for enhanced NHS 111 services, NHS England has revealed.

NHS 111 pilots will test direct booking of GP out-of-hours services (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)
NHS 111 pilots will test direct booking of GP out-of-hours services (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)

In its latest update on the urgent and emergency care review, NHS England revealed that it had established a series of pilots and evaluation projects to test the new service specifications.

GP leaders have previously called for integration of all unscheduled care, including GP out-of-hours care, NHS 111, and hospital emergency departments.

The urgent care review was launched a year ago by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh in response to increasing demand and pressure on services.

The review’s phase one report published in November 2013 called for the bureaucratic burden on GP practices to be cut to boost access to primary care and reduce pressure on A&E, and for a dramatic rise in the proportion of urgent care delivered closer to home.

Revised commissioning standards have been developed for an enhanced NHS 111 service to ensure all clinicians in the service have access to relevant patient information.

In addition, it will ensure that patients can be treated according to their care plans, commissioners consider how to increase clinical advice for patients, and the service can book GP call-backs, appointments with urgent care centres or GP out-of-hours services.

Review 'sensible'

NHS England is now working with commissioners and providers to plan the delivery of the enhanced service.

John Horrocks, chief executive of Urgent Health UK (UHUK), which represents social enterprise providers of GP out-of-hours services, said the latest announcements from the review were sensible and in line with what UHUK members were working towards.

‘We're working through the NHS 111 models of service delivery and following a workshop in September we will be advising NHS England, with whom we meet regularly, of our findings and recommendations.’

Mr Horrocks also welcomed proposals to develop new payment mechanisms for urgent and emergency care services.

College of Emergency Medicine president Dr Cliff Mann said: 'The development of NHS 111 can have a profound impact on the numbers of patients attending emergency departments so it is important that these pilots are properly evaluated.'

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