Commissioners have put their NHS 111 service on hold indefinitely in a sign that the rollout of the service is slowing down following major problems with the non-urgent care phoneline.
CCG leaders in Leicestershire said they would put the brakes on their NHS 111 service, extending the expected rollout from June.
NHS England announced at the start of the month that it would extend its deadline for the rollout of NHS 111 from June to the end of this summer as it launched an urgent review of the service. This announcement by commissioners in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR), where Derbyshire Health United is providing the service, marks the first to acknowledge that they will be delaying their service as a result.
LLR was one of only three regions to take up the Government’s offer in July 2012 to extend the rollout of the service until June.
But commissioners said they had ‘learnt the lessons’ of other areas and were delaying the rollout indefinitely.
Dr Avi Prasad, NHS 111 programme in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, said: ‘Any delay in implementing a new service is disappointing but the safety of patients must always come first.’
‘We’ve learned lessons from other areas where the service is live and we are working with DHU to ensure that we have a high quality, fit-for-purpose service that properly meets the needs of patients living in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. The system will only go live in our area when the CCGs are confident that it is ready to do so.’
A statement from the CCG said no decision had been made on when the service will be launched.
NHS 111 is still not fully live in 23 of the 44 regions.
Meanwhile, health minister Earl Howe told the House of Lords that the review of emergency services being undertaken by Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England, will incorporate NHS 111.
Earl Howe added: ‘The challenge now is to ensure we are ready for next winter. All the work that is now being done in NHS England and by CCGs and providers is to ensure we are much readier for the pressures to come.’