The NHS 111 Covid clinical assessment service is ‘still in need of clinicians’ to staff it, NHS England has said.
The remote assessment service is seeing ‘increasing’ workload and needs those with ‘spare capacity’ to sign up for shifts, GPs were told in a webinar last week.
It comes as Pulse revealed last week that GPs are giving up on attempts to join the CCAS due to ‘bureaucracy and hurdles’ in the month-long onboarding process.
In a previous webinar, Mr Waller said that the CCAS had ‘over 950 GPs available to work in the service’ – the ‘majority’ of whom are retired doctors.
However, NHS England director for primary care strategy and NHS contracts Ed Waller last week encouraged GPs to continue signing up to ensure their time is ‘used well’.
He said: ‘For people who have spare capacity in their extended hours slots, that capacity could be offered to the 111 clinical assessment service where we’re still in need of clinicians who can sign honorary contracts to work in those slots – to make sure that their time is used well.
‘We would really appreciate that.’
Mr Waller acknowledged that ‘a lot of practices’ are expecting or already experiencing demand ‘coming back quite significantly’ – but workload is also surging for the CCAS.
NHS England digital lead Dr Masood Nazir encouraged practices to ensure a ‘sufficient’ number of appointment slots are available for the CCAS to book into.
He said: ‘The workload is increasing [at the CCAS] and we envisage more and more of these slots will be needed.’
Practices were first asked to free up a minimum of one appointment per 500 patients each day to accept direct referrals from the CCAS in April.
NHS England later clarified that GPs could ‘start with a smaller number’ if the appointments are not filled up.
The CCAS is staffed by clinicians to further triage Covid-19 patients after the NHS 111 algorithm has been unable to determine whether or not they need hospital admission.
In April, practices were told they could use their extended access time and funding to work at the CCAS if they don’t need it to ‘meet demand’ – after NHS England put out an ‘urgent’ call to offer up their spare time to the service.