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RCN: NHS 111 chaos threatens patient care

Published: 29 July 2013

Despite the best efforts of staff, some parts of the NHS 111 service are now in chaos, and urgent action is needed to prevent this from having tragic consequences for patients, the Royal College of Nursing has said.

The comments came as the RCN expressed its concern about the news that NHS Direct is to begin a “managed exit” from its contracts to deliver NHS 111 services.

Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, said this move is the latest in a series of very worrying developments.

“NHS Direct has proved to be a key source of information, reassurance and advice for people and families for many years, giving expert care and shouldering a burden which would otherwise be taken up by the emergency services,” he said.

The RCN fully supports a single point of contact for patients to get help and advice from the NHS but says the announcement raises concerns that a locally commissioned, fragmented system may not be able to provide the high standard of service and advice that patients need. 

“We remain concerned that patient care may suffer if the person who takes calls is unable to quickly and easily access clinical expertise or escalate relevant calls to senior staff who are able to make decisions about the care needed,” Dr Carter added.

Further information

NHS 111 is a provider of the NHS non-emergency telephone service in England. Read more about NHS 111 on the NHS Direct website.