News : West Midlands Ambulance Service 111 Deal Only Temporary
Oct 17, 2013 -- West Midlands Ambulance Service will take on the 111 non-emergency advice line, which has been administered by Shropdoc for the past seven months.
Shropdoc will be allowed to continue to run its separate out-of-hours line for patients to call when their GP is closed.
But the arrangement is only short term, with the future of both services reviewed in 2015.
Patients were today reassured that they will continue to receive the help they need from the lines.
The 111 line was thrown into chaos earlier this year when NHS Direct announced it could no longer provide the service. Shropdoc stepped in and has been running the line since March.
It was announced earlier this week that West Midlands Ambulance Service will take over the running of the service from November 11.
But health bosses confirmed today the ambulance service will only act as a "short-term provider", with efforts continuing to find a "sustainable long-term model" for providing the service, which has been dogged with problems since its introduction earlier this year.
It was also confirmed that Shropshire’s out-of-hours medical service Shropdoc, which had stepped in to bail out the controversial Government helpline, will continue to run alongside the NHS 111 service.
GPs from Shropshire out-of-hours medical service Shropdoc had been bailing out the controversial Government helpline, since its disastrous ‘soft launch’ in March, where callers faced lengthy waits to get through for advice.
Earlier this year health advice and information service NHS Direct announced it would stop providing the 111 helpline service in the West Midlands by early October.
Paul Tulley, chief operating officer for Shropshire CCG and local lead for NHS 111 for Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups, said the use of the ambulance service from next month is currently only viewed as a temporary measure.
"Across the region we have been through a thorough process to identify a short term provider for NHS 111, this involved looking at a number of providers," he said.
"The Ambulance Service brings a wealth of experience in call handling and triage which will support them to provide the NHS 111 service. He added: This short term arrangement is likely to continue until 2015. As local commissioners we will be working with patients and clinicians to develop a sustainable long term model for delivering NHS 111 for patients in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. We will need to undergo a thorough procurement process to identify the future provider of the NHS 111 service.
"We would like to stress that NHS 111 is a separate service from Shropdoc, the out of hours GP service. Shropdoc will continue to provide the GP out of hours service."
Gill Clements, medical director of Shropdoc, said: "Shropdoc is working closely with the CCGs to ensure that patients in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Powys continue to receive a high quality GP out of hours service that they can depend on."
West Midlands Ambulance Service chief executive Anthony Marsh said: "We are delighted to be able to provide the NHS 111 service going forward. We believe our expertise in running complex clinical call handling operations will allow us to bring real improvements to the 111 service.
"We have already seen how well the NHS 111 and 999 service can integrate in other parts of the country."
Speaking yesterday, Bernie Jones, a member of the Shropshire Patients Group, expressed concern about ambulance call handlers taking on responsibility for the running of NHS 111.
He said they do not have the same level of training as GPs when it comes to dealing with patient calls.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About West Midlands Ambulance Service:
The West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS) is the second-largest ambulance service in the UK. It is the authority responsible for providing NHS ambulance services in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire.
Shropshire Doctors Co-operative Ltd (Shropdoc) provides medical services.
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013