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NHS 111 delay likely as DH ‘considers’ GP concerns

The GPC says it is ‘optimistic' that it can convince ministers to shelve the rollout of NHS 111 until the full evaluation of pilots has taken place.

The BMA recently wrote to health secretary Andrew Lansley urging him to halt plans for the service to go live throughout England on 1 April 2013 due to concerns over implementation, safety and cost.

It came after Pulse revealed in January that four of the seven 111 pilots across England have been hit by a series of patient safety alerts.

NHS Direct and the Royal College of Nursing have since backed the BMA's call, increasing pressure on ministers to delay the rollout to allow more time for preparation.

GP leaders have urged the Government postpone the procurement of 111 until clinical commissioning groups are in place and the on-going pilots have been fully evaluated.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said initial talks had left them feeling that the Government was open to concessions.

Dr Buckman said: ‘The idea is not a bad idea but we've got to slow down to the point that it's ready to go. The minister said they would listen carefully to our concerns. That's not their response if they think its rubbish. So I'm reasonably optimistic that they will [listen].'

‘We won't say "don't do this", but setting up an emergency service has to be very carefully thought through. This is not a service to mess up. We have already met civil servants. I look forward to meeting ministers with interest.'

A DH spokesman said: ‘We are currently considering the BMA's concerns.'

‘We agree that any long-term decision should be made with full approval from local commissioning groups. They should be fully engaged with the approach to delivering NHS 111.'

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