NHS Direct 111 helpline staff warned of jobs axe

 

Hundreds of members of staff at a failed provider to the troubled NHS 111 helpline have been told that they face losing their jobs.

The 111 service was thrown into turmoil last July after NHS Direct announced it was planning to pull out of its contracts due to severe financial problems.

In October, the organisation announced that it is to close after projecting a £26 million deficit for this financial year.

A spokeswoman said: "NHS Direct has today written to around 500 employees, including around 140 nurses, giving them formal notice that they are at risk of redundancy at the end of March.

"The final number of redundancies is likely to be less than this, since we are seeking to mitigate as many redundancies as possible by supporting these staff to find alternative employment within the wider NHS.

"At this stage we do not know what the final number of redundancies will be as it is dependent on several factors including the number of 'at risk' staff who obtain suitable alternative employment elsewhere."

The spokeswoman said that most staff facing redundancy are not currently working on the 111 service and added that the largest group at risk of losing their jobs were back office staff.

NHS Direct currently employs 700 workers, with 200 already set to avoid being made redundant by NHS Direct by being transferred to patient service jobs with other providers.

The 111 line, which replaced NHS Direct as the number to call for urgent but non-emergency care, has been riddled with controversy since its inception on April 1 last year.

It suffered many teething problems, with patients complaining of calls going unanswered, poor advice given and calls being diverted to the wrong part of the country.

Just a month after its launch, leading medics warned that the "problematic" roll-out of the system left many patients not knowing where to turn.

And NHS England was forced to launch an investigation into the advice line after a number of potentially serious incidents, including three deaths, were linked to the service.

NHS Direct originally won 11 of the 46 contracts across England to provide the 111 service.

But in July last year, it announced it would be unable to provide the service in North Essex, Cornwall, Somerset, Buckinghamshire, east London and the City, south east London, Sutton and Merton, West Midlands, Lancashire and Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire.

The cost of re-tendering the contracts for the non-emergency telephone service is likely to cost the health service millions of pounds, according to a British Medical Journal (BMJ) investigation.

Commenting on today's announcement, Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), claimed that 158 nursing staff at NHS Direct would lose their jobs.

He said: "This is sad news indeed for the individuals affected, and could to lead to patients seeing their NHS 111 service stretched even further.

"After the dismantling of NHS Direct, we've been left with a fragmented, localised NHS 111 service that offers uncertainty and inconsistency across many parts of the country.

"Soon we're going to lose another 158 skilled nursing staff from a system that is already struggling to cope.

"What we need to see is investment into the service to get it up to standard and retain skilled nursing staff, not let them go.

"The RCN will continue to engage with providers to ensure that NHS 111 improves as a service.

"NHS Direct was a clinically-led national service copied across the world, and we believe that NHS patients deserve these standards of care from properly-trained nursing staff."

PA

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'