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NHS Direct set to lose OOH contract

Three PCTs in Derbyshire are inviting bids to take over out-of-hours call handling and triage in the county after NHS Direct failed to cope.

GPs said NHS Direct could not deal with the volume of calls at peak times, forcing two existing deputising services to retake control.

Dr John Grenville, chair of Derbyshire LMCs, said NHS Direct had been seen 'as the answer to everything' but had not proved up to scratch.

He said: 'The two main deputising services signed contracts with NHS Direct to do call handling but it had trouble coping. It's never really been possible for NHS Direct to guarantee call handling all the time.'

The two deputising services now plan to put a joint tender in to cover the whole patch and put an end to sometimes lengthy call-back times: 'My understanding is there's not a great level of patient satisfaction but it should and could be better.'

Dr Mike Sadler, national medical director of NHS Direct, said its service could compare with any other triage provider.

North Eastern Derbyshire PCT said a new service would start in November.

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