COMMERCIAL: A 111 service in the West Midlands will be provided in the interim by an urgent care and GP out of hours provider, Vocare, to replace West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group announced last month it would be abandoning its procurement of a new NHS 111 service after no “acceptable” bids were put forward.

West Midlands Ambulance Service was the only provider to submit a bid and said it was “disappointed” not to have been chosen.

The ambulance service had offered to provide the service in the interim until the second procurement had been completed.

However, the CCG has chosen Vocare to take over the service in the interim, trading under the name West Midlands Doctors Urgent Care.

West Midlands Doctors Urgent Care already operates a 111 service in Staffordshire under the Staffordshire Doctors Urgent Care service.

This step-in provision will begin within the next few weeks and will last for a year.

The new procurement process will start in October. The tender covers most of the CCGs in the region.

A spokeswoman for the CCG said the ambulance service would not be continuing to provide the service in the interim because the two parties could not come to an agreement over the contract details.

Jonathan Leach, clinical director for NHS 111 at the CCG, said the details of the re-procurement are “currently in its initial stages and we hope to be in a position to incorporate the revised specification by the early autumn when we will commence a new procurement process. In the meantime the service will continue to provide support, help and advice for thousands of patients across the West Midlands.”

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We are disappointed that we have not been able to agree a way forward with commissioners in order for us to continue as step-in providers of the NHS 111 service in the West Midlands.

“Following the end of the recent re-procurement process we have worked tirelessly to try and find a solution to continue in our interim role, but have now been informed by commissioners that a new provider has been appointed.

“Since stepping in to replace NHS Direct, we have consistently been one of the highest performing 111 providers in the country each week, for many months.

“We have invested heavily in the service, providing additional training to staff and increasing the number of clinicians which has resulted in significant reductions in the number of patients being sent to A&E or requiring an ambulance.  The feedback from patients shows the service has very high satisfaction levels.

“Despite the huge amount of work, commissioners have informed the trust that while the necessary standards were met for quality, we were unable to reach agreement on a price that we felt was sustainable.”