Health dept puts off NHS 111 helpline roll-out for 6 months

Avenue for non-urgent problems not urgently needed


The government has extended the deadline for the roll-out of NHS 111 to make sure areas have enough time to plan for the service.

The announcement follows criticism of 111 by the British Medical Association and other unions, as well as pressure from clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and private firms.

In a letter to CCGs (PDF) Jim Easton, national director for improvement and efficiency at the Department of Health, says that after careful consideration and having sought the views of senior CCG representatives, an extension of up to six months of the original April 2013 deadline may be necessary in some cases.

"That extension will be by application to an expert clinical panel, and should not delay roll-out in those areas that are ready to move ahead," says the letter. "It will however, help ensure that in those areas that need it, time can be taken fully to engage local clinicians and build delivery models for NHS 111 that have the support and endorsement of all local stakeholders."

It goes on to say that the clinical panel will publish the criteria on which it will judge applications shortly. CCGs that want their areas to be considered for an extension should submit an application in writing to their strategic health authority.

At the end of last month, Capita expressed concerns about the 111 tender process and said it was not constructed "to result in cost-effective services that can flex to dynamic needs of the public". Around the same time, Serco and Care UK confirmed that they had taken the decision not to bid in the multimillion pound replacement programme to provide a new 24-hour urgent care service.

Despite these concerns, a number of areas are moving ahead with their 111 plans, including Wandsworth and Suffolk primary care trusts, which recently awarded care services specialist Harmoni a contract to operate its services.

With the help of NHS Direct and NHS Choices, the department is currently trialling an NHS 111 online service as part of a plan to provide a service to complement locally-driven telephone services.

Commenting on the government's announcement to extend the deadline, Nick Chapman, chief executive of NHS Direct, said that the period of transition from the 0845 number to the new NHS 111 service is now likely to take longer.

He said: "NHS Direct believes that the DH's decision to allow further time to plan and implement these national changes to the urgent and emergency care service is the right one. It will allow for greater clinical engagement and ensure that the service is the best it can be for patients.

"As we understand it, the next step is for local commissioners who want an extension to make an application to the DH. We won't know until these applications have been made how many areas will request an extension, and what implications that may have for the 0845 service and for NHS Direct staff."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

Similar topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Tesla driver charged with vehicular manslaughter after deadly Autopilot crash

    Prosecution seems to be first of its kind in America

    A Tesla driver has seemingly become the first person in the US to be charged with vehicular manslaughter for a deadly crash in which the vehicle's Autopilot mode was engaged.

    According to the cops, the driver exited a highway in his Tesla Model S, ran a red light, and smashed into a Honda Civic at an intersection in Gardena, Los Angeles County, in late 2019. A man and woman in the second car were killed. The Tesla driver and a passenger survived and were taken to hospital.

    Prosecutors in California charged Kevin George Aziz Riad, 27, in October last year though details of the case are only just emerging, according to AP on Tuesday. Riad, a limousine service driver, is facing two counts of vehicular manslaughter, and is free on bail after pleading not guilty.

    Continue reading
  • AMD returns to smartphone graphics with new Samsung chip for your pocket computer

    We're back in black

    AMD's GPU technology is returning to mobile handsets with Samsung's Exynos 2200 system-on-chip, which was announced on Tuesday.

    The Exynos 2200 processor, fabricated using a 4nm process, has Armv9 CPU cores and the oddly named Xclipse GPU, which is an adaptation of AMD's RDNA 2 mainstream GPU architecture.

    AMD was in the handheld GPU market until 2009, when it sold the Imageon GPU and handheld business for $65m to Qualcomm, which turned the tech into the Adreno GPU for its Snapdragon family. AMD's Imageon processors were used in devices from Motorola, Panasonic, Palm and others making Windows Mobile handsets.

    Continue reading
  • Big shock: Guy who fled political violence and became rich in tech now struggles to care about political violence

    'I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy,' billionaire VC admits

    Billionaire tech investor and ex-Facebook senior executive Chamath Palihapitiya was publicly blasted after he said nobody really cares about the reported human rights abuse of Uyghur Muslims in China.

    The blunt comments were made during the latest episode of All-In, a podcast in which Palihapitiya chats to investors and entrepreneurs Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, and David Friedberg about technology.

    The group were debating the Biden administration’s response to what's said to be China's crackdown of Uyghur Muslims when Palihapitiya interrupted and said: “Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay? ... I’m telling you a very hard ugly truth, okay? Of all the things that I care about … yes, it is below my line.”

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022