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Your spotlight on local services

Concerns grow over long-term future of Hackney’s GP out-of-hours service


Hackney’s GP-led out-of-hours service may be under threat as local health chiefs have received instructions to commission a NHS 111 region-wide call service.

NHS England has told City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group it must collectively procure a NHS 111 service with six other north east London CCGs.

NHS England wants to create a round-the-clock north east London service to increase the proportion of callers able to speak to a clinician over the phone from 20% to 60%.

A business case for the new service will be presented at the next CCG governing board on 31 March with the aim of ‘going live’ in April 2018.

Health in Hackney scrutiny committee discussed the plans at its meeting on 20 February where patients raised concerns that the local GP out-of-hours service CHUHSE would be lost as a result.

Concerns were also raised that a remote out-of-hours service would struggle to attract GPs who were already in short supply.

Not-for-profit CHUHSE took over the GP out-of-hours service from private company Harmoni in 2013 after an inspection report found the company was putting patient safety at risk.

One local patient told Healthwatch Hackney: ‘Patients and GPs fought hard for this service. It is local and really good at directing people away from hospital.'

‘There's no evidence that NHS 111 reduces hospital admissions,' she added.

NHS England head Simon Stevens told the body's board meeting on 9 February that ‘substantial changes’ were needed to the NHS 111 service ‘to stem the rise in A&E attendances’.

Read the Nuffield Trust's report on NHS 111 and hospital admissions here.