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As the British media focuses on the fallout from the decision by NHS Direct to pull out of its non-emergency call service contracts with the National Health Service, the decision by outsourcing specialist, Capita, to pull out of the original bidding process last year seems to have been the right one.
NHS 111 was launched in April 2013 as a new service to make it easier for callers that urgently need medical help or advice where it's not a life-threatening situation.
In June 2012, Capita announced that it had withdrawn from the bidding process for the new service, as the current tender specifications were not “cost-effective”.
Capita were particularly concerned that the specification for the service did not allow for online interaction. At the time, a spokesperson for Capita said: “Based on our experience of the current round of tendering processes we do believe that there are significant risks and we have communicated these to the Department of Health directly. A delay in the roll out of the service would allow many of these risks to be mitigated.”
NHS Direct went on to win 11 of the 46 contracts to provide the service in England and had put a value of £43 million a year on the contracts, but now says its predicted income is actually half that.
NHS Direct announced today that the 111 contracts would "come to an end in a planned and managed way throughout 2013-14". The company says that it currently employs 465 people on its 111 services, plus about 415 agency workers to cope with peaks in demand.
The largest provider of 111 services is Care UK following its acquisition of private healthcare company Harmoni, which had won a third of the 111 contracts on offer covering 34% of the UK population.