End for NHS Direct.
The NHS Direct phone line will soon be a thing of the past in the West Midlands following news that the service is to be taken over by local ambulance operators.
Contracts have now been signed for West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) to step-in and lead on the NHS111 service from NHS Direct the West Midlands with effect from 11th November 2013. This follows contract negotiations and the joint development of clear improvement plans for the service.
WMAS is being asked to deliver the 111 service in Birmingham, Solihull, the Black Country, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Coventry and Warwickshire only.
Andy Williams, Lead Commissioner for the NHS111 Project Team said: “We have been working towards this step-in arrangement since NHS Direct announced its withdrawal from the contract. We are confident that West Midlands Ambulance Service will deliver an improved service for our patients and public.
“WMAS has already implemented an upgraded training programme for call handling staff which will improve the clinical governance process and this will continue for the next few months. In addition, as new staff are recruited into the call handling team, they will undergo this enhanced training package before becoming operational.
“We are pleased that West Midlands Ambulance Service is stepping-in to provide this service as we believe it’s a natural fit for the service and will strengthen the service as we come into the winter season.”
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.”
The NHS Direct 0845 46 47 telephone number will be switched off at the end of November in the West Midlands region and callers will be advised to hang up and re-dial NHS111 which is a free service.