UK & World News
Hundreds Of NHS Direct Staff Face Job Losses
Hundreds of people working for NHS Direct, a failed provider to the NHS helpline, have been told that they face losing their jobs.
NHS Direct announced in July that it was planning to pull out of its contracts due to severe financial problems.
In October it said it would close after projecting a £26 million deficit for this financial year.
Some 200 of its 700 staff have already been told their jobs are safe, as they move to other providers.
Of the remaining 500, many may also escape redundancy, with back office staff most likely to lose their jobs.
A spokeswoman said: "NHS Direct has today written to around 500 employees, including around 140 nurses, giving them formal notice that they are at risk of redundancy at the end of March.
"The final number of redundancies is likely to be less than this, since we are seeking to mitigate as many redundancies as possible by supporting these staff to find alternative employment within the wider NHS.
"At this stage we do not know what the final number of redundancies will be as it is dependent on several factors including the number of 'at risk' staff who obtain suitable alternative employment elsewhere."
The 111 line, which replaced NHS Direct as the number to call for urgent but non-emergency care, has been riddled with controversy since its inception on April 1 last year.
Patients complained of calls going unanswered, poor advice being given and calls being diverted to the wrong part of the country.
A month after its launch, leading medics warned that the "problematic" roll-out of the system left many patients not knowing where to turn.
An investigation was launched by NHS England after a number of potentially serious incidents, including three deaths, were linked to the service.
NHS Direct originally won 11 of the 46 contracts across England to provide the 111 service.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), claimed that 158 nursing staff at NHS Direct would lose their jobs.
He said: "This is sad news indeed for the individuals affected, and could to lead to patients seeing their NHS 111 service stretched even further.
"After the dismantling of NHS Direct, we've been left with a fragmented, localised NHS 111 service that offers uncertainty and inconsistency across many parts of the country."
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