This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

The docbot will see you now

All GP practices could see NHS 111 direct booking from April 2019

NHS England will expand the trial of direct booking of GP appointments by NHS 111, as part of plans to roll this out 'universally'.

The BMA's GP committee has agreed to an extension of the pilot in 2018/19, although participation will be voluntary.

But NHS Employers said the 'lessons learned... will inform' next year's contract negotiations.

It comes as Pulse reported in December that CCGs have been told to reserve 5% of GP appointments for direct booking by NHS 111, rising to 30% of appointments by April 2019.

At the time, GPs said the scheme would not work unless it was contractual.

A pilot scheme has been running in the North East of England since 2016, with participating practices offered a one-off payment of 70p per patient

Outlining the details of the recently concluded contract negotiations, NHS Employers said that NHS England intends that direct booking by the 111 clinical assessment service (CAS) into practice systems 'should be rolled out universally as soon as possible'.

It said the GPC also 'notes that potential benefits and implications of direct booking into practice systems for patients and practices will be demonstrated as this work progresses'.

The document added: 'Over the next year, NHS England and GPC will work together to support further use of 111 direct booking where agreed with practices, to fully evaluate benefits and address any concerns about its implementation and potential consequences.

'Lessons learned, and the solutions reached, will inform a discussion in the 2019/20 contract negotiations.'

But BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey played down the implications.

He told Pulse: 'This is simply looking at the evidence this year of the experience of those using NHS 111 direct booking in to GP appointments.

'That’s particularly the case for extended GP access sites and there’s a pilot taking place in the North East.’

NHS 111 direct booking of GP appointments

CCGs are already reserving a set proportion of GP appointments for NHS 111 direct booking following instruction from NHS England.

CCGs were asked to meet the 5% target by December 2017, with the target growing to 30% by April 2019. However GPs said there was still a lot of scepticism about whether the scheme would work.

Shortly after the launch of the North East England pilot, Pulse reported that NHS 111 was slow to fill appointments. But there is also fears NHS 111 could increase pressures on the NHS.

A senior NHS England director previously said that four in five NHS 111 referrals to practices could be avoided if the calls were first taken by a GP rather than a non-clinician. 

And a year ago, NHS England announced that one in three calls to NHS 111 were to be assessed by a clinician under plans to ‘beef up’ the helpline.



Readers' comments (50)


    This will certainly reduce OOH workload..esp late night calls..
    OOH might usually say call your gp in the morning.. now they can book the appt

    Rather than wait for the phone lines to open at 08:00 .. and the nightmare trying to get an appt

    Just call 111 and get your appt anyway

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment


    Dont like the "brick wall" receptionist
    call via nhs 111

    Receptionist said 2 weeks for appt with gp
    lets see what nhs 111 says

    The system is up for abuse
    Tricky grounds if patient makes up an acute issue to get an appt
    but them want to discuss a chronic issue
    like when they take up emergency slots for the a none urgent issue like a sick note or a medication request..

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment


    But NHS Employers said the 'lessons learned... will inform' next year's contract negotiations.

    ??? there are negotistions??
    sounds like bma just rolls over and we are handed $H1T CAKE YEAR ON YEAR

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Why did the BMA agree to this? Shame on them

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The same 111 who have crushed the ambulance service with inappropriate 999 calls, 1. child with 1 hour of earache 2. Man who twisted knee 3 weeks earlier and rang for advice. Saw them as an A&E GP. Complete farce.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Independent Contractors? This pretence can't go on.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • National Hopeless Service

    Utterly lunacy. My reception staff know my patients, our practice set up and where to best direct patients. Given the non urgent crap I am being forced to see 'within 2 hours' by 111 already this is just going to make a struggling appointment system worse.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Jones the Tie

    mental idea. numpties with little medical trianing following some ridiculous computer flow chart that ends up sending lots of folk needlessly to A+E already. Give them access to 30% of my appts so they can fill it with dross and add to the white noise my practice has become VERY adept at filtering... sod off idiots just fund primary care properly

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This Monday I triaged 42 patients with variety of complaints /requests and only saw 5 patients face to face (3 were young children)
    Am sure 111 triage will just fill GP surgeries with many unnecessary face to face consultations
    If I had my way no Pt would be offered a face to face. Appt with me unless the request was triaged by myself or colleague- my experience this recent Winter is that on a Monday morning I need to SEE only 1 in 8 patients who ring in for an appointment .

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • A patient known to our receptionist with new cancer ,fitted him in despite no appointments. He was upset and refused to go back to the hospital for a witnessed bad news error..
    111 would have struggled.
    Another patient furious with a local practice was fitted in to help. Not our patient.
    We are flexible and helpful and here to help.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say