Fear over future over West Midlands NHS 111

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The NHS 111 Service is the non emergency helpline used by people across the West Midlands and today UNISON are raising concerns over the future of the service.
West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) have run the service since 2013 when it took over providing non emergency telephone advice from NHS Direct. The service is commissioned by Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG for the whole of the West Midlands and earlier this year put out to tender a temporary contract to run the service until the full 5 year contract is awarded early next year.
WMAS bid for the service and despite its excellent record was denied the contract, it was awarded to the private contractor; West Midlands Doctors Urgent Care, part of the Vocare Group.
Chanel Camilleri-Willis, UNISON West Midlands Regional Organiser said:
“When NHS 111 was run by WMAS the service was amongst the best performing in the country handling over eight hundred and fifty thousand call a year.
The public of the West Midlands clearly value this service and I believe would want it to remain in the hands of a public organisation which has a proven track record of delivering it.
There is evidence from across the country that NHS 111 is a difficult and complex service to run. There have been a number of well documented problems including, in June this year, the failures at Oxfordshire NHS 111.
Given these issues it is essential that Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG think carefully about their responsibilities to the people of the West midlands and consider carefully who they award the full contract too”