Eight clinical commissioning groups have applied for an extension to the roll-out deadline for NHS 111.
The government had set a deadline for commissioners to have the urgent care telephone service rolled out across England by April 2013. But in June it announced that CCGs could apply for an extension of up to six months.
The tight roll-out deadline had been criticised by a number of organisations worried that the helpline is increasing the burden on ambulance services, A&E departments and GPs, while leaving the public with less advice than was delivered through NHS Direct.
BMA General Practitioners Committee chairman Dr Laurence Buckman also expressed concern that the procurement process in non-pilot areas was being rushed, leaving clinical commissioning groups with little input or choice of provider.
Extension applications had to be submitted to strategic health authority clusters by 27 July. NHS South of England told eHealth Insider that South Devon and Torbay CCG and North East and West Devon CCG have applied for extensions.
Plymouth Teaching PCT NHS 111 project support manager Lee Grant said the preferred provider for NHS 111 in Devon, following a competitive tendering exercise, was Devon Doctors Ltd.
However, they were unable to conclude contract signing due to their “own commercial considerations” and subsequently withdrew their bid.
“The timescales required for the re-procurement of a 111 service meant that it would be extremely unlikely to be procured, tested and mobilised in time for the original planned start date of March 2013,” said Grant.
“The CCGs’ application for an extension to October 2013 reflects the time and work required to re-procure a service for our county."
In London, three CCGs have made a joint extension application. An NHS London spokesperson said it received a request on behalf of all three CCGs in the east London and city area.
These are: NHS City and Hackney CCG; NHS Tower Hamlets CCG; and NHS Newham CCG.
NHS North East London and the City senior programme manager for urgent care Sarah Mcilwaine said the primary care trust cluster is “committed to safe and effective implementation of 111.”
The CCGs requested the extension to “allow additional time for 111 mobilisation, ensuring that the integrated service model, directory of services and dispositions are worked through sufficiently before the service goes live,” she added.
A spokesperson for NHS Midlands and East said three CCGs in the region have asked for an extension to the NHS roll-out deadline.
They are Leicester City CCG; East Leicestershire and Rutland CCG; and West Leicestershire CCG. No CCGs in NHS North of England area have applied for extensions.
There are 212 proposed CCGs nationwide. All applications will be sent to an expert panel for review.