A MAJOR revamp of healthcare services which will eventually see the full integration of the 999 and 111 services in the West Midlands has taken a step forward.
The 111 service transferred to West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) yesterday in a bid to improve patient care through fully integrating NHS urgent and emergency care services.
The new service hopes to see fewer patients being sent ambulances and lead to a reduction in the number of patients asked to attend A&E, according to WMAS.
The new model will allow for patients to be provided with care over the phone by a team including GPs; advanced nurse practitioners; community mental health teams; pharmacists, dental nurses, paramedics and midwives.
WMAS say more calls will also be diverted to GPs (in and out of hours), urgent treatment centres and rapid response services operated in the community.
WMAS chief executive, Anthony Marsh, said: “We have an outstanding track record in running complex clinical call handling operations. This expertise will allow us to bring real improvements to the 111 service for both patients and our staff.
“We will build on the good work that Care UK, the previous provider, had initiated.
“During the winter period we start to make the changes necessary to take the service to the next level. We have already taken on over 200 additional staff to that we can maintain the current service at the highest possible level.
“In the spring we will begin the work to properly integrate the two services.”
Jeremy Brown, WMAS Integrated Emergency and Urgent Care Director, added: “I want to pay tribute to the staff that have joined us from the existing 111 service.
“They have absolutely embraced our vision of making the service as easy as possible for patients and together with our existing staff are committed to taking the 111 service to the next level.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for those working in both 999 and 111 with the chance to expand their knowledge and embrace the change which will open up new opportunities to enhance their careers. I am certain that this will bring stability to the workforce and help us to develop and enhance the service for patients.”
UNISON union regional organiser, Chanel Camilleri-Willis, said: “We are delighted that the 111 service has returned to the NHS family. This is excellent news for both staff and patients.
“WMAS already demonstrates outstanding patient care on a daily basis and I have no doubt that they will bring that same high level of performance and patient care with the 111 service.
“As well as stability of employment this will provide staff with tremendous opportunities to develop and progress their careers.”