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The new urgent care telephone number NHS 111 may have the potential to bring real benefits to the health care system but, according to a recent NHS Alliance survey, is in danger of ‘getting lost in translation’

The new clinical commissioners currently feel a lack of engagement with NHS 111, despite the fact that they are the key people responsible for its rapid implementation across England by April 2013.

The survey found that current clinical engagement appears to be poor and clinical leaders feel that this is another example of top down policy rather than local innovation. Only 11% of clinical leaders have experienced ‘good engagement; my view was taken into account’, with 32% saying there has been ‘some engagement, but no real ability to affect decision making’ and 55% saying there was little or no engagement. Also, 77% of respondents said that ‘there is little scope for local clinicians to shape this service to meet local needs’.

Rick Stern, urgent care lead, NHS Alliance, said: “We remain supportive of the idea and want to work in partnership with the Department of Health and other national partners to ensure that local commissioners are actively involved in the development of NHS 111.

“However,” he added, “our members currently feel disengaged and believe there is little room for local flexibility. We need to take steps to address this now, as otherwise both the 111 programme and the credibility of local clinical commissioning will suffer.  While there is support for NHS 111, in principle, there are substantial concerns about the speed and style of implementation.”

The survey highlights examples where local systems have decided to vary the way 111 is to be implemented locally as part of a clear view of how to develop  integrated 24/7 urgent care. It also demonstrates that clinical leaders are wary of top down implementation.

One survey respondent said: “I have strong reservations about 111. The whole of the NHS reforms are being managerially-led and the clinically-led proclamations seemed to have been purely an aspiration which has now been all but sadly lost.”

Another added: “We started by considering a local pilot, but have been told it’s too much of a risk. The timetable for implementation is clearly driven from the top. We now must devote resource to ensuring it’s not going to destabilise our local urgent care strategy.”


Written by Scott Buckler
Wednesday, 25 January 2012 11:11

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