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Independents' Day

MPs to investigate NHS 111 rollout

MPs will investigate the troubled rollout of NHS 111 in a forthcoming parliamentary review into emergency services by the House of Commons Health Committee.

The committee will publish a report on NHS 111 and the structure of emergency services before Parliament recess in mid-July, its chair has told Pulse.

Stephen Dorrell MP said the committee will review the whole spectrum of NHS emergency services. This follows reports of serious problems with the rollout of the triage system, which has led to it being postponed in many areas of the country.

He told Pulse: ‘We have agreed among ourselves that we are going to do a review of NHS emergency services. Obviously 111 is an important part of that but it is not the whole thing.

‘We are looking to review the whole emergency service, whether it is 111, primary care, primary community based services, walk-in centres, or provision by conventional A&E services, urgent care centres or major trauma units.’

The issue as a whole has been ‘subject to a whole lot of public discussion’, he added.

Mr Dorrell would not comment on the problems faced by NHS 111 before the inquiry.

He said: ‘We need to look at the facts behind it.  I am obviously aware of the reports coming out. The objective of 111 is the right one. Instead of having a discrete advice service from the rest of the health service, as I understand it, NHS 111 tries to provide a more integrated service. I think that is the right objective. The question is whether it is working in practice.’

The committee will meet privately on 1 April to discuss the terms of reference and will report back before the summer recess, he added.

Mr Dorrell stressed that the inquiry would not focus on the issues with Lewisham A&E.

He said: ‘I’m sure Lewisham will come up but I think it is important it isn’t side tracked into a review of Lewisham. This is about the right structure of emergency services in the health service as a whole.’

Readers' comments (11)

  • Vinci Ho

    Interesting that Stephen Dorrell was the health secretary of the past but he is currently expressing a lot of opinions about the mess of NHS .
    So where is agent Hunt?

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  • Perhaps the review should look at 'who' was commissioned in the various areas to provide the 111 service. It was working well in pilot areas, the NE being one and they have successfully continued into full launch!

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  • Peter Swinyard

    Surely a simple management task.
    Part One. Look at what works. Disseminate. Job done.
    Part Two. Look at what doesn't work. Stop doing it. Refer back to part one.

    However, in the NHS, it is more like:
    Part One: start several pilots
    Part Two: Make them Champions for Change before they are mature
    Part Three: Ignore any data you don't like or find inconvenient or which doesn't fit with how you thought it might work
    Part Four: Completely ignore any experienced opinion from senior practitioners in relevant speciality
    Part Five: Give the work to untried private companies while breaking doewn established and functional NHS care
    Part Six: Proclaim the enormous successes in the new system in terms of money saved and extra service to patients
    Part Seven: actually start the system going
    Part Eight: blame the professionals caught up in the system for its failure
    Part Nine: blame the system
    Part Ten: don't accept any blame even if you designed the system - just see part nine
    Part Eleven: change your own job role before the chickens come home to roost

    And, do you know, I didn't mention patients or their needs at all. A job awaits me in Whitehall.......

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  • There does need to be a review - the system is often hindered by lengthy triage calls for patients who are only wanting information such as dental surgery numbers.

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  • i agree with Peter - learning from pilots was not diseminiated fully and some issues raised from non pilot areas questions the robustness of those pilots. Pilots should be tested to breaking point and problems not hidden becasue they are "inconvenient or a cause of potential embarassment.

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  • Communication comunikation Komunifikation
    Patients being trained for past 5 years ring your GP anytime you will be transferred to appropriate help, OOH services set up knowing local conditions and facilities generally working well. Now lets give them a nice easy number to remember - but for what?

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  • No prizes for anticipating the conclusion of this investigation. It will be that GP's should be 'encouraged ' to a) Become personally involved once again in OOH provision b) Provide week-end services.This will help to relieve the burden on the service and improve patient care and safety. Remember that for 'encourage' read 'unilaterally alter their contract' where the DOH is concerned. They now know they can do it at will with no resistance whatsoever.

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  • I hope the Select Committee will gather its evidence from a wide range of sources to give its final judgement validity and gravitas. I'm glad to see that the remit is all of unscheduled care.
    In relation to 111 rollout, there are both local (commissioner) and more particularly national issues (provider and political) here - mostly around implementation that were not ready by the April 1st deadline.
    Good local implementations are being compromised by the national lack of readiness.
    At all costs we need to avoid trial by media - one article in The Daily Mail Monday week ago set the hares running, but we need to look deeper than that.

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  • Harry Longman

    This disaster was entirely predictable from the pilots, the ScHARR report on which was published after contracts had be let. It said that cost saving objectives had not been met. It said that ambulance calls went up. The fact that DH ploughed on regardless is a scandal. Did ministers know? Did unelected officials keep them in the dark? I know some did know the truth, but were bullied to shut up.

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  • The various organisations who have to cooperate to make 111 work were not properly briefed on what that would entail. They have thus seemingly turned in some cases into rivals rather than colleagues.

    The LAS are now telling patients to call 111 when they refuse them an ambulance instead of referring them as they used to. This represents a potential threat to patient safety.

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