NHS England’s board meeting on Friday heard from deputy chief executive Dame Barbara Hakin that in some areas CCGs have already hit providers with financial penalties.
She said a ‘couple of providers’ had been responsible for ‘seriously poor performance’.
‘NHS England will not shy away from working with CCGs to support them to invoke the serious financial penalties, or indeed to revoke the contracts where we believe providers cannot show that they are going to be able to improve.’
Dame Barbara said an external urgent review of the service would consider the actions of ‘predecessor organisations’, including how contracts ‘were awarded to providers who so patently, on day one when the service went live, could not provide the service that had been commissioned’.
Following unacceptable levels of service in some areas, Dame Barbara said, there had been ‘very significant improvements’ overall in recent weeks, with 90% of calls last weekend achieving ‘gold standard. But, she added, contingencies were in place for the coming bank holiday.
The board voted to accept Dame Barbara’s report including proposals for an external review.
GPC deputy chairman, Dr Richard Vautrey, said a review of problems with the procurement and role of the service was a good step forward, but that NHS England should also consider why GPC's repeated warnings to ministers were ignored.
RCGP chairwoman, Professor Clare Gerada said NHS 111 must be more effectively supported if it is going to properly direct patients to the most appropriate urgent care.
'It is extremely worrying that there is still so much uncertainty around the delivery and reliability of the advice provided by NHS 111 in some areas', she said.
'We are also concerned that patients are losing confidence in the new service before it is even fully up and running. We call on NHS England to provide more reassurance about its effectiveness and ability to deliver the necessary standards of care for all patients using the service, right across England.'