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NHS Direct reveals ambitions to be major 111 provider

NHS Direct has revealed its ambitions to dominate the provision of the 111 urgent care number as it seeks to reinvent itself over the next five years.

In a business planning document published this week, NHS Direct also unveiled its plans to market a raft of new services directly to clinical commissioning groups.

The Government announced it would scrap the controversial phone service in England last August, replacing it with the new 111 number to be rolled out across the country.

The move followed years of doubts among GPs over the cost-effectiveness and expertise of the service.

The business plan outlines how the organisation will reshape itself in an effort to survive competition with private companies and GP out-of hours' services under the Government's Any Qualified Provider model.

NHS Direct will aim to become a ‘major provider' of NHS 111 services, transforming ‘the way we engage with [GP] commissioners and how we market and manage our services.'

NHS Direct also plans to develop its clinical services, including a web service that will be offered in addition to the NHS 111 service, in response to demand from commissioners.

The organisation is also looking at marketing telehealth solutions to GP commissioners, for patients with long-term conditions.

An NHS Direct spokesperson also told Pulse the organisation had been approached by a CCG about the possibility of helping co-ordinate in-hours GP appointments, but said the talks had not gone beyond the exploratory stage.

Nick Chapman, chief executive of NHS Direct, said: ‘We are excited at the prospect of working with other public and private sector organisations to help them exploit the wider potential of digital health services.'