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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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NHS Direct jobs in Carlisle ‘spared’

Carlisle workers with the NHS Direct telephone advice service at Hilltop Heights will be spared from job losses that now threaten their colleagues elsewhere in the north west, say officials.

The health union Unison says that hundreds of staff across the region could be made redundant.

The union said it was “truly shocked” by the uncertainty now hanging over NHS Direct jobs.

It claims that as many as 24 out of 30 sites in England are at risk of closure – but NHS officials in Cumbria say they are not aware of any changes planned for the Carlisle arm of the advice service.

Even so, if union’s claims are accurate, the service could lose 1,500 frontline advice staff, including nursing and other professional staff.

NHS Direct has denied that any decisions had been taken to close centres.

Sources within the organisation say the centres in Carlisle, Dudley, Exeter, Milton Keynes and Middlebrook, Bolton, would continue to be used to provide the NHS 111 service, which is used in cases where a patient needs medical advice but the problem does not warrant a 999 call.

One of three sites in Greater London will also be used.

Nick Chapman, NHS Direct chief executive, said: “Unison’s fears that 50 per cent of front-line staff will lose their jobs are also unfounded.

“The Department of Health has agreed that NHS Direct’s front-line staff will be offered the opportunity to move into a job providing the new 111 service with other providers (ambulance Trusts and GP out-of-hours organisations) where NHS Direct is not the chosen provider of the 111 service in an area.”


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