The move to a larger NHS 111 contact centre in Bedford will “enhance the service” it provides to the area, the operator has said.
There was an official opening of the new centre at Technology House, Ampthill Road yesterday (23 October) to show the new facilities to various stakeholders ahead of it going live today.
HUC chairperson, Sarah Pickup, said: “NHS 111 is the front end of the Health Service when you’ve got a query.
“We have good facilities for staff [here] so that they can take your calls and really serve the local population well,” she said.
HUC is a not-for-profit social enterprise that has been commissioned by the NHS to provide healthcare services across the East of England since 2007, expanding into the West Country last year.
Ms Pickup said: “The benefit, I think, for being a not-for-profit is that our whole purpose is about supporting the people for whom we’re here to deliver services.
“Any surplus that we make from our contracts is reinvested in the business and it’s all about making things better and offering really good value for money.”
A HUC spokesperson said with winter on the horizon and the NHS likely to come under sustained pressure, and this new contact centre will be a “significant cog” in HUC’s operations in Bedford and beyond.
HUC said between April 1, 2022, and March 30, 2023, it took 2,098,036 calls, which equates to one every 15 seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
HUC chief executive, David Archer, said: “111 is there to be used if you’ve got any urgent symptoms.
“It’s not there to replace 999 ambulance services, but it’s a really good starting point for accessing health care.
“So if you’ve got any queries or any concerns then ring 111.
“It can help direct you into other services and certainly avoid people turning up at A&E unnecessarily – potentially for four hours – to find out that they didn’t need to be there in the first place,” he said.
NHS 111 call handler Vanessa Hunt (Bedford’s Star of the Month) cut the ribbon to officially open the new space.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter