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RCN warns of 'hundreds' of NHS Direct job losses

Hundreds of NHS Direct frontline staff could face losing their jobs in new cost-cutting measures design to aid the migration to the NHS 111 services.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said new roster arrangements will mean around 300 frontline staff will be dismissed and given the option to reapply for the remaining shifts.

Such staff will include those with flexible working arrangements and those who currently work less than 15 hours a week.

“What we are seeing here is a clear example of quality being compromised in a bid to make short term savings,” said Dr Peter Carter, the RCN's Chief Executive and General Secretary.

“Our fear is that patients, who can often be extremely worried or distressed, will receive a stripped back service from NHS 111, with more being advised to dial 999 or got to A&E, which is far more costly.

“At a time when the NHS as a whole is under pressure to make savings, it seems nonsensical that one part of the health service is in effect picking up the tab for another.”

Dr Carter warns many disabled NHS Direct workers that lose their jobs in the restructuring process may “struggle” to find other work within a healthcare setting.

NHS Direct is among a list of organisations, including private and GP out of hours providers, tendering to deliver NHS 111 services.

This variety of providers will lead to more “postcode lotteries” and “fragmentation”, Dr Carter warned.

Question: Do you think NHS 111 will do a better job than NHS Direct?