Dear Sir David
Implementation of NHS 111 Services
At our meeting on Thursday 21 March, the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee heard numerous reports from GP representatives from various parts of the country about serious problems in the implementation of NHS 111 services.
Major difficulties are being experienced at local level with the soft launch and, from the examples given, it seems that in a number of areas the service is simply not ready to operate, or to handle the volume of calls in a clinically appropriate way. Consequently there have been delays in many of the soft launches. In Manchester, as a specific example, local out of hours providers took the decision to take back control of the call system when the 111 system crashed soon after its launch.
We have repeatedly asked for the implementation of NHS 111 services not to be rushed and stressed that a smooth transition is essential for patient safety. As yet, many areas seem not to be ready for that transition and, from some of the examples reported, I am worried that patients may be put at risk. Locally there seems to be pressure to proceed with implementation when more time is needed to ensure services are fully prepared. I am particularly concerned about the implications for patients over the coming Easter weekend,
which is one of the peak times for demand.
I would therefore urge you to delay any further launches or development of NHS 111, to give the services sufficient time to ensure that they are completely ready before taking on this important responsibility. I would be happy to discuss this further with you.
DR LAURENCE BUCKMAN
Cc: Earl Howe