News : Ambulance Bosses Give Notice on NHS 111 Contract
Cornwall, UK, May 13, 2015 -- A patients' watchdog has told Pirate FM that the South Western Ambulance Service has given notice on its contract to run the NHS 111 helpline for Cornwall.
It comes as a report from Healthwatch Cornwall calls for improvements to the Duchy's urgent care services.
The organisation claims the ambulance trust will no longer deliver the NHS 111 contract after March 31, 2016.
The contract was due to run until 2018.
Chief Executive of Healthwatch Cornwall Debbie Pritchard said: "Our report includes formal recommendations that commissioners and providers must respond to in 20 working days and it is anticipated that Healthwatch Cornwall will work with the ambulance service before the end of its contract to address the request for more public awareness raising of the 111 service.
"We hope this will be a long-term commitment and will transfer to the new provider of a 111 service post March 2016."
Healthwatch Cornwall added: "NHS Kernow, the commissioners of the NHS 111 service in Cornwall, said the length of time before the contract ends would be ample to ensure a new high quality service is in place, supporting its ambition to create an integrated healthcare system."
NHS Kernow Governing Body member Dr Iain Chorlton said: "The public is not affected by this decision and should continue to call 111 for 24-hour urgent healthcare advice, and we would like to thank SWASFT for its commitment to providing the NHS 111 non-emergency medical help service."
The 111 service was designed to take over from the former NHS Direct helpline. The ambulance trust stepped in to take over its running when the organisation which won the right to provide it pulled out.
The roll out of the 111 initiative in other parts of the country was beset by problems, with callers initially reporting long waits to speak to an operator.
In March, Pirate FM reported that bosses were planning to close its 111 call centre in Truro, with the potential loss of up to 40 jobs.
NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG) and NHS South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group issued a joint statement that said: "We can confirm that South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has given notice on its contract to provide the NHS 111 service in Devon and Cornwall.
"SWASFT will continue to provide the NHS 111 service until the end of March 2016. The three CCGs have ample time to ensure a new, high quality service will take over. The public will not be affected by this decision and we will do everything possible to ensure a seamless transfer of service.
"We would emphasise that people should continue to call 111 for 24-hour urgent healthcare advice.
"We would like to thank SWASFT for its commitment to providing the NHS 111 service and its support to help create an integrated healthcare system for people in Devon and Cornwall."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust:
The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is the organisation responsible for providing ambulance services for the National Health Service (NHS) in the English districts of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Scilly Isles Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. The Foundation Trust was authorised on 1 March 2011 by Monitor (the Independent Regulator for NHS Foundation Trusts) to run the ambulance services run previously by the NHS Trust as a result of the merger of the Westcountry and Dorset ambulance services, and the subsequent merger with neighbouring Great Western Ambulance Service on 1 February 2013. This latter merger was announced in 2011, and staff were asked to accept changes in their pay and conditions.
About NHS Direct:
NHS Direct is a 24 hour health advice and information service provided by the National Health Service (NHS) in England. NHS Direct provides confidential access to medical information, guidance and reassurance through a range of interactive services. These include an expert telephone advice line and detailed web resources.
Published: Thursday, May 14, 2015