Dorset 111 urgent care service to be brought in-house

Ambulance service headquarters at St Leonards Hospital Image copyright Google
Image caption About 200 people are employed by the service, which is based at a call centre in St Leonards

The running of Dorset's NHS 111 urgent care service is expected to be brought in-house by April after the ambulance service said it was pulling out.

South Western Ambulance Service Trust (SWAST) announced last year it was withdrawing amid staffing shortages.

Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust said it intended to take over the running of the service and introduce a new IT system.

Managers say they are working to ensure the changes do not affect patients.

Last July, SWAST announced it could no longer run the service saying it had "struggled to maintain the staffing levels needed" at its call centre in St Leonards.

Dorset's health and scrutiny committee was told SWAST was continuing to struggle to fill key shifts, including call takers and clinical supervisors, the Local Democracy reporting Service said.

Sue Sutton, of Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said Dorset Healthcare was taking steps to improve recruiting.

She said: "Dorset Healthcare have expressed their intention to provide this themselves and they are currently going through a process with the CCG to ensure they have the necessary skills, staff and infrastructure in place to provide a safe, high quality and effective service.

"The CCG and Dorset Healthcare are working together to ensure a safe and seamless transfer to the new provider, without any interruption for patients."

There are about 200 staff employed at the St Leonards call centre who provide the NHS 111 phone service to patients, out-of-hours care, night nursing and prison health services.

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