Birmingham & Black Country

NHS 111 retendering 'to cost £500,000 in West Midlands'

Renegotiating the contract to run the 111 medical helpline in the West Midlands is expected to cost £500,000, the British Medical Journal has said.

The contract to originally manage it was won by NHS Direct, but it withdrew in July because of financial problems.

The helpline had suffered problems including calls going unanswered and patients being given poor advice.

Figures from clinical commissioning groups supplied to the BMJ estimate the retendering could cost £500,000.

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) took over the running of the region's service in December.

Patient safety compromised

The BMJ report said that more than a third of 111 contracts would have to be retendered in 2015.

It said millions of pounds could be spent "correcting the mistakes made in the initial tendering process".

The NHS 111 line launched on 1 April but a report by NHS commissioners published four weeks later concluded patient safety could have been compromised by poor service.

An investigation was started into one death and 21 other serious incidents in the West Midlands.

In July, NHS Direct withdrew from running services in North Essex, Cornwall, Somerset, Buckinghamshire, east London and the City, south-east London, Sutton and Merton, West Midlands, Lancashire and Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire.

It announced in October that it would close after projecting a £26m deficit for this financial year.

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