NEW TIMESCALE FOR NHS111 TRANSFER AGREED
29 September 2022
A new timescale for the transfer of the NHS111 West Midlands contract has been agreed to ensure patients are unaffected by the change in provider during the busy winter period.
In July it was announced that the current provider, West Midlands Ambulance Service, would be stepping back from the contract and DHU Healthcare, who already operate 111 in the East Midlands, would be taking over. The change tied in with a move towards closer working between the NHS111 service across the East and West Midlands, which mirrors the increasing collaboration across some other regions in England.
The initial plan was for the switch to take place on Tuesday 25 October, but after a review of the timeline, this will not be possible. As a result, the ICB, WMAS and DHU are working together to set a new date in March 2023 to best protects patients, staff and the 111 service.
Mark Axcell, Chief Executive Officer of the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: “It was always going to be a tight deadline and due to a number of factors, some of which were outside the control of all three organisations, we now plan to make the change after the key winter period.
“The driving force behind this change is to ensure we continue to provide the best service we can for patients whilst making the right preparations to transfer the service. With the 111 service set to play an even more important role within the NHS, ensuring that the service is at its strongest throughout the busy winter period has been our priority.”
The three partners were conscious of issues including:
- A further wave of COVID-19 which could put additional pressure on the 111 service shortly after the transition period
- The well-publicised outage at Advanced which understandably impacted and delayed the roll out of the Adastra system to the new call centre
- Ensuring enough staff were available and fully trained at the start of the contract.
Given these risks, and to prioritise patient safety and the ability to provide a high level of compassionate care throughout the region, all three organisations agreed with and are fully committed to the new transfer date.
Mr Axcell continued: “We want to provide reassurance that the service will be there for patients in the usual way. However, we do recognise that this delay may feel unsettling for WMAS staff. We will now do all we can to support those staff affected to ensure they understand that the situation remains the same; all staff will continue to have security of employment with current terms and conditions maintained. In addition, DHU will continue with their recruitment campaign for additional staff to work in the new contact centre in Oldbury, close to junction 2 of the M5.
“All three organisations are confident that this pragmatic solution will ensure we can concentrate on a smooth transition for the benefit of patients and staff.”