NHS England to review sustainability of 111 service

NHS England is set to launch an urgent review of the troubled NHS 111 urgent care phone service.

Barbara Hakin: leading NHS 111 review
Barbara Hakin: leading NHS 111 review

Papers published ahead of Friday’s board meeting propose a review into the ‘sustainability of the current model of service into 2014’.

‘The ability of some providers to maintain delivery of these services will need to be thoroughly assessed and an appraisal of the likely market of providers undertaken,' the document adds.

The chaotic roll-out of the phone triage service, which in some areas handles calls for GP out-of-hours services, has already led to an MPs’ enquiry.

Around half the local services due to launch in April were delayed until June, although the NHS England board papers reveal they are now expected to launch by the ‘end of summer’.

The paper said problems with the service had become ‘particularly significant’ the weekend before Easter and was ‘unacceptable in some areas’ over Easter weekend.

But it added: ‘At the time of writing, there was a vastly improved picture of NHS 111 delivery across the country when compared to late March and the Easter bank holiday periods.

‘However, the service is still fragile in a number of areas and many have needed contingency.'

The proposals to the board, to be presented by Dame Barbara Hakin, NHS England’s deputy chief executive, include oversight of day-to-day operational delivery, including ‘medium-term review of sustainability of service, a review of individual providers, overall provider landscape, service roll-out and commissioning methods’, and a focus on the longer-term strategy for the service.

The GPC has previously called for an end to the roll-out of the service.

GPC deputy chairman, Dr Richard Vautrey, said a review of problems with the procurement and role of the sevice was a good step forward, but that NHS England should also consider why GPC's repeated warnings to ministers were ignored.

He added: 'NHS England needs to be careful not to make the same mistakes by setting a summer deadline for all the issues to be resolved. Services should be suspended as long as they take to address the issues.'

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