By Ian Dipple Friday 01 November 2013 Updated: 01/11 07:22
A TROUBLED health advice line is set to be relaunched in Worcestershire later this month.
Doctors on the county’s three Clinical Commissioning Groups are expected to sign a temporary deal with Harmoni to run the full NHS 111 service in Worcestershire from the end of November. At that point the current NHS Direct 0845 46 47 number will be switched off.
The service was supposed to go fully live in April but never did after running into problems during testing with some people waiting hours to be called back with advice and the ambulance service being asked to deal with enquiries. The quality of the advice given in some cases was also questioned.
Since then NHS Direct, which was awarded the contract to provide NHS 111 in the West Midlands, has announced its withdrawal from the service and will close next year, leaving commissioners to seek an alternative provider.
Harmoni already runs the GP out of hours service for Worcestershire and has been responsible for out of hours calls to NHS 111 since April.
It has now been decided to award the company the contract for the full advice service on a temporary basis until September 2015, to allow commissioners time to find a permanent provider.
Simon Hairsnape, chief officer for Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, said: “NHS Direct never delivered a full NHS 111 service for Worcestershire. A few months ago it became clear they never would and we needed to procure an alternative provider. This will take time, a full procurement process takes about a year.
“We had to put an interim arrangement in place. We had only a limited choice of options and decided to go with Harmoni, who currently provide our out of hours service. We know them well as a provider and we think there are benefits of a single provider, providing both NHS 111 and Out of Hours services.”
A publicity campaign is planned when the service is relaunched. Anyone wanting out of hours care currently is advised to contact their GP’s surgery and follow the instructions on the answerphone message.
In Warwickshire, West Midlands Ambulance Service has been awarded the contract and will take control from November 11.
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