NHS24 111 Service Implementation

Assisting the implementation of a high profile Out of Hours Patient Care Line.

Our client, a leading national Telehealth and Telecare organization in Scotland, was seeking support from their Framework of approved Suppliers to provide additional resource in support of the pending launch of a new NHS 111 service.

This service, was intended to be the new NHS non-emergency contact number for the general public, and was designed to replace the existing 0845 number. Some key benefits of the 111 number is that it would be easy to remember, and would be free of charge.

The 111 number would allow members of the public with health concerns, to speak to a highly trained advisor, supported by healthcare professionals. The new NHS 111 service would also be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thus helping to ensure that the public had access to health information and support, including access to a GP, when they really needed it.

The Challenge

The launch of the new 111 service in Scotland was extremely high profile due to a variety of challenges encountered when this service was implemented the year previous by NHS Trusts in England.

In addition, the Scottish political landscape placed additional focus on the launch due to the imminent Scottish Independence Referendum.

The launch would also be carefully monitored by the Scottish Government, which placed increased importance on NHS Scotland delivering the project on time and with minimal disruption to their non-emergency service.

Recruitment for the project also posed a significant challenge due to the need for all Stellar candidates to be pre-screened to a specific level by Disclosure Scotland, as they would be dealing with vulnerable groups as part of the 111 service.

Due to the specialised nature of the service provided by NHS24 to the general public, the client had a preference for Stellar staff to be deployed within one of their own call centres in Glasgow on an insourced model.

The Solution

Having been appointed to the NHS24 Framework of approved Suppliers since 2009 after a rigorous Tender process, Stellar was selected to support our client with this demanding project for Non-emergency call types, leaving more complex medical calls to NHS24’s in-house Care Specialists.

Working in close collaboration with our client, the Solution deployed by Stellar included an implementation plan aimed at managing project risks whilst ensuring all key deliverables were met within project timelines.

A flexible three shift strategy was agreed for the initial launch, with the option to reduce to two shifts depending on the volume of calls received during night-time hours.

As 111 would be our client’s new non-emergency contact number, it was unclear how quickly members of the public would start using this number in place of the traditional 0845 number, which was less memorable.

A pool of pre-screened staff was therefore maintained by Stellar in order to facilitate unexpected changes in shift pattern requirements or call demand and as a contingency for unforeseen absence or illness.

In order to provide consistency of service delivery to the public, Stellar call handlers were trained to the same level as our client’s in-house staff, before being signed off as competent to handle live calls.

Further support was provided by Stellar Operational Management who delivered effective performance management through coaching & call monitoring activity, with timely feedback being given to call handlers, thus optimising the patient call experience.  

The Result

  • Transition from NHS24’s 0845 number to the new 111 number achieved ahead of client’s expectations

  • Support required from Stellar by our client was extended from the initial 2 months to a 6 month period in response increased call volumes on new 111 number

  • Quality & flexibility of Stellar’s Insource service provision recognised by NHS24 & the Scottish Government

  • Stellar positioned as our client’s Supplier of choice for future projects

Client Feedback

“In relation to the 111 project, the support provided by Stellar was really valuable in terms of ensuring a smooth transition to the new number. One of the main reasons for bringing in Stellar at any time is the flexibility in dealing with events that you don't always know what the full impact is going to be. Stellar always respond quickly when requested to help with any project and work in collaboration with NHS 24 to achieve the desired outcomes. I've always found the Stellar staff at all levels to be friendly and helpful” - Alasdair Quinney, Associate Director of Operations, NHS24 Scotland.

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