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Government accelerates 111 rollout

The Government has accelerated its nationwide rollout of the new 111 number for non-emergency calls by setting health bosses a deadline of September 23 to provide firm details of when they plan to go live.

The Department of Health has asked each SHA to provide full details of when they plan to go live with 111, how the service will be rolled out geographically and which operating models they intend to pursue.

The DH told health authorities to ensure that GPs as clinical commissioners are at the centre of planning the rollout, in ensuring appropriate clinical governance arrangements are in place, and in ensuring ‘the safety of the whole patient pathway'.

A letter by David Flory, deputy NHS chief executive, and Jim Easton, national director for improvement and efficiency, says SHAs unable to meet the September 23 deadline for providing the information will automatically be opted in to a service provided by NHS Direct until they are ready to make alternative arrangements.

The new integrated service is already live in four pilot areas, County Durham and Darlington, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Luton, with a further ten pilot sites launching this year.

But the DH plans to accelerate the rollout in order to meet health secretary Andrew Lansley's deadline to have a full national rollout in place by April 2013.

The letter says: ‘We would now like to invite those areas that have not yet committed to go-live or procurement dates for NHS 111, to confirm their plans. In doing so, we would like SHAs to oversee planning and implementation, ensuring that full coverage of their region is planned in line with the national specification, and with full support of local clinical commissioning groups and PCTs.

‘The NHS Operations Board also re-stated the need for commissioners, led by local clinicians, to take the lead in planning for the roll out of NHS 111, and developing a comprehensive directory of services, and associated referral protocols to underpin the service.

‘Local commissioning groups and clinicians should also take the lead in ensuring that effective clinical governance arrangements are in place, and can ensure the safety of the whole patient pathway, not just the NHS 111 call handling service.'