NHS Direct announced earlier this year that it would seek to withdraw from its NHS 111 contracts, and Commissioners have now identified alternative providers. NHS Direct's 111 staff and call centres are due to transfer to five Ambulance Trusts by the end of November, details of which are currently being finalised. In the light of these transfers, the Board of NHS Direct has reviewed its future as a viable independent organisation and, in agreement with the NHS Trust Development Authority and NHS England, has arrived at a decision to cease operations at the end of this financial year.
No patient services will be affected by the Board's decision, as we expect each of the services that NHS Direct is commissioned to provide beyond March 2014, will be transferred to other organisations, together with the staff who provide them. At its Board meeting on Monday 28 October, NHS Direct NHS Trust will launch a formal consultation on the implications for staff of this decision. It is hoped that the number of redundancies arising will be kept to a minimum through transfer and redeployment of staff to other organisations.
In September NHS England confirmed that the telephone contingency service, which has been providing in support of NHS 111 in some areas of England, will cease at the end of February 2014. It is NHS England's intention, at this stage, not to continue to commission the Dental Nurse Assessment Service or the Complex Health Information and Medicines Enquiry Service beyond 31 March 2014. As a result, we expect all elements of the original 0845 telephone service will cease by March 2014. These intentions are subject to ratification by NHS England's Board.
Chair of NHS Direct, Joanne Shaw, said "The closure of NHS Direct marks the end of its 15 years of continuous innovation, during which time it has led the world in remote health assessment, advice and information. It is an enormous privilege to have been part of this journey, and I look back over my 10 years with NHS Direct with gratitude and respect for the staff who have created this exceptional service. I look forward to seeing other organisations take forward a number of the services developed by NHS Direct, and I wish them well as they exploit the ever-growing reach and power of technology, to provide value to patients and the NHS."