Fears have been raised over the cost to the National Health Service after consultation was announced to re-tender Lancashire’s 111 health line service.
The non-emergency helpline was launched last April by NHS Direct, which just three months later pulled out of a third of its contracts, including Lancashire, for financial reasons.
A new contract to run the 111 service in the region was won by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) NHS Trust, which officially took over in October.
That contract will run out in March, 2015 and must then be put out to re-tender.
Critics say the cost of the tendering process is likely to run into thousands – but the NWAS told The Gazette it was unable to confirm how much it was likely to cost in the North West.
A spokesman said: “Discussions are on-going with NHS England at a national level and local Clinical Commissioning Group partners about what the tendering process will be. Currently it isn’t possible to provide an estimate of any costs for the process.”
An investigation by the British Medical Journal claims the cost of re-tendering the 111 contracts across the country is likely to cost the health service millions of pounds in correcting initial mistakes by NHS Direct.
A statement from NWAS and Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (GGC) says discussions are already ongoing with NHS England at a national level as well as local CCG partners about what the tendering process will be.
A spokesman said: “111 is now a stable and an improving service, with high levels of public satisfaction.
“NWAS and Blackpool CCG wants to ensure service users receive the best possible service and we are confident it will continue to improve.”
Demand for service is high in region
Up to 500 people call 111 every day from Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, and on top of that NWAS receives around 1,800 calls each day during the week and around 6,000 over the weekend for the North West region.
NWAS took on extra clinicians to provide a speedy response to those needing clinical advice.