The announcement today that NHS Direct is to pull out of the NHS 111 services should be no surprise to anybody.
As readers of this blog will know the chief executive already had deep misgivings as https://davidhencke.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/exclusive-byebye-nhs-direct-leaked-chiefs-e-mail/ revealed.
It was already clear that private profit making providers were taking over many services – putting in cheapskate staff in call centres who are probably Googling your symptoms on the net as you speak. And a lot of them don’t have qualified medical staff on board on a 24 hour basis. This is certain if you want to cut costs from £20 to £9 a call and make a profit on each call for their directors.
No wonder NHS Direct couldn’t compete and accident and emergency services are flooded with calls.
The statement says: NHS Direct is seeking to withdraw from the NHS 111 contracts it entered into as these have proved to be financially unsustainable. The Trust will continue to provide a range of web, mobile and telephone services for patients which complement NHS 111 and support the NHS. These services are unaffected by the discussions currently taking place.
Nick Chapman, NHS Direct Chief Executive said:
“We will continue to provide a safe and reliable NHS 111 service to our patients until alternative arrangements can be made by commissioners. Whatever the outcome of the discussions on the future, patients will remain the central focus of our efforts, together with protecting our staff who work on NHS 111 to ensure that the service will continue to benefit from their skills and experience.”
I would suggest anyone using NHS 111 for advice should ask the call operator for his or her medical qualifications and quiz her or him about the source of the information. If unsatisfied demand to speak to someone who has medical qualifications, because for every call made to NHS 111 the private owners are making money out of you as a taxpayer. Otherwise be wary of using the service at all.