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NHS Direct to cut jobs

12th November 2012

Unison, the UK's biggest union, has said NHS Direct intends to cut its staff numbers by 50% and close the majority of its call centres.

nhsdirect1

The union said the decision would be "disastrous" and added that NHS Direct wanted to shut down 24 of its 30 call centres.

In response NHS Direct said it had not "confirmed" the closure of any of its centres.

The chief executive of NHS Direct, Nick Chapman, said "The future of other NHS Direct sites has not been decided. We are in discussion with the Department of Health and the NHS Commissioning Board about the future of other non-111 services that we could be asked to deliver before making decisions."

NHS Direct's 0845 telephone service is being replaced by the 111 system from April next year.

The new service will use non-specialist staff, in comparison to the 0845 service, which employs nurses to give advice. 

However Sandra Maxwell, UNISON Convenor at NHS Direct, said: "Hundreds of dedicated nursing and NHS professionals are to be made redundant at a huge cost, when their skills could be used within the new NHS 111 service if only the Department of Health took some decisive action."

UNISON national officer for NHS Direct, Michael Walker, said health secretary Jeremy Hunt needed to take action in order to "stop this disaster immediately.”

He added: "Axing dedicated hard working nurses is never a good idea at any time, but this will directly impact on patient care. There is no doubt that patients will suffer as a result of this move." 

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