NHS 111 to Follow “Any Willing Provider” Approach

Elucidating the Government's plans for NHS Direct, the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley stated that the role of NHS Direct would be carried on by the planned NHS 111 non-emergency patient helpline following an any willing provider approach.

The explanation over the NHS Direct was asked by the Conservative MP Stephen Dorrell, Chairman of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, as there were apprehensions that the helpline would be eliminated and the place would be taken by the new NHS 111 service.

As responded by Mr. Lansley in a letter, people will have access to tow numbers, 999 for an emergency and 111 for non-emergencies after the existing number 0845 4647 will be removed in 2013. The helpline services will be provided by NHS Direct till that time.

He also called for the clinical assurance of the future providers of NHS 111 by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), so as to guarantee that they adhere to the national service specification.

Mr. Dorrell also questions about the staffing pattern of the NHS 111, for which Mr. Lansley said that it was not required that an approach of "one size fits all" would be followed. He added that the staff that was most appropriate for call handling would be employed, for which piloting the service would help.

The service is in the pipeline for its first trial in the north of England for a year and it will be reviewed by the University of Sheffield, whose results will be available in November 2011.