Exclusive: Only 4% of CCGs have applied for a delay in their rollout of NHS 111, despite concerns remaining over the safety of the new urgent care service.
Following pressure from the GPC, the Department of Health agreed in June to allow CCGs to apply for an extension to the April 2013 deadline before 27 July.
Pulse revealed last month that a few weeks before the deadline, not a single CCG in England had formally requested an extension to date on their rollout of NHS 111 to their SHA cluster.
Following this, eight CCGs out of the 212 across the country have applied for an extension to this deadline to their SHA. The SHA will then pass this on to an expert clinical panel at the DH to decide if a delay is needed.
The CCGs are:
- South Devon and Torbay
- North East and West Devon
- City and Hackney
- Tower Hamlets
- Leicester City
- East Leicestershire and Rutland
- West Leicestershire
The new urgent care service, which is to replace NHS Direct, was due to be rolled out by April 2013. However, GP leaders said they were worried there would not be adequate clinical engagement and that the rushed rollout would undermine the safety and reliability of the new service.
The development comes as the latest figures show commissioners are overlooking NHS Direct in favour of ambulance trusts and GP-led out-of-hours services to run NHS 111.
Board papers from NHS Direct show that out of the 24 areas that have chosen a preferred provider, NHS Direct has been selected in only three, covering 4% of England’s population.
Sarah Mcilwaine, senior programme manager for urgent care at NHS North East London and the City, said CCGs in her area had applied for a delay to allow the ‘safe implementation’ of the new service.
She added: ‘NHS North East London and the City is committed to safe and effective implementation of NHS 111. We requested the extension to allow additional time for 111 mobilisation, ensuring that the integrated service model, directory of services and dispositions are worked through sufficiently before the service goes live.’
Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMC and a GP in the New Forest, said the low numbers did not reflect the concern on the ground about the speed of the rollout.
He said: ‘There are quite a number of people who are concerned about how 111 will work, what the pilots have shown and whether it provides value for money.
‘For a lot of the CCGs going through authorisation it is not the number one thing on their agenda. In some areas, there are concerns but they will make the best job of it. It does not show that everyone supports it.’