COMMERCIAL: Commissioners across the East Midlands are looking to extend their contracts with the region’s biggest providers of NHS 111 services by six months. It follows an NHS England moratorium on procuring fresh contracts until September.

Social enterprise Derbyshire Health United provides the non-emergency telephone service across Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland, Northamptonshire, and most of Nottinghamshire.

Independent provider Care UK runs the services in Lincolnshire. Both providers’ contracts are set to end in March next year.

Last month, NHS England’s commissioning operations director Dame Barbara Hakin wrote to all clinical commissioning groups asking them to cease procurement processes for 111 and out of hours services while it developed new standards for integrated urgent care services.

Barbara Hakin

Dame Barbara Hakin wrote to all CCGs asking them to cease 111 and OOH procurement

The demands included a call for commissioners to cease procurements even if they were underway.

Commissioners from across the region had been discussing proposals to jointly procure a single provider for 111 services. However, these plans have been delayed while the new commissioning standards are developed.

To ensure that provision continues during the interim, each CCG in the region is consulting with its board to get support to extend their current 111 provider contracts, a Nottingham City CCG spokeswoman said.

She added: “All CCGs across the East Midlands are in the process of taking papers to their governing body meetings to ask for support to extend the current 111 provider contracts for six months. This process will not be complete until the end of August.”

An NHS England spokesman said: “Where current contracts for NHS 111 or out of hours services expire earlier than the full procurement process under new guidance could be completed, commissioners will wish to extend existing contracts in order to maintain services for patients.”