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Ambulance service seeks to continue NHS 111 number for five more years

West Midlands Ambulance Service will seek to continue running the NHS 111 number for up to five more years.


The non-emergency number endured a troubled start when it was launched in 2013, leading to the ambulance service taking it on from NHS Direct.

Since then the service has gone from strength to strength and bosses have proclaimed it as the best-running 111 service in the country.

And now the trust which runs West Midlands Ambulance Service has taken the first step in its bid to retain the NHS 111 contract for the region.

Commissioners set a deadline of early January to submit a pre-qualification questionnaire which sets out the basis of why the trust should be allowed to bid for the contract.

And the trust's clinical commissioning chief Mark Docherty said bosses would do 'everything we can' to continue running 111 from its Dudley base.

Mr Docherty said: "Commissioners are looking to run a competitive tender process to provide the 111 service for a 48 month period, with an option to extend for a further 12 months.

"Given the tremendous work that has been achieved by staff at Navigation Point since we took over in November 2013, we feel that we are well placed to offer a continued service.

"As a trust we are committed to winning the contract and will do everything we can to win the bidding process.

"We have already been able to demonstrate an innovative approach to the way we run the 111 service and we feel confident that we can build on that further."

A decision is expected this summer.

NHS Direct was running 111 in its infancy back in April 2013 but announced its intention to quit just a few months later, saying the contracts were too expensive.

It admitted it had encountered 'significant problems' and that calls took 'twice as long as expected'.

The ambulance service stepped in and now answers 111 calls for Birmingham, Solihull, the Black Country, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Coventry and Warwickshire.

Since it took over the running more than one million calls have been made to 111, with the milestone call coming in during the festive period.

Liz Parker, quality, service and improvement manager, said: "Reaching one million calls is a significant landmark for us and one that the staff are really proud of achieving.

"What makes it even better is the fact that the feedback we get from patients who have used the service is very favourable."

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