West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) have won back a contract to deliver the local NHS 111 service.
WMAS will take over the contract in November 2019, and plan to integrate both the 999 and 111 services in the area, leading to “significant improvements for patient care”.
For the past four years, the 111 service has been delivered by private company Care UK.
UNISON West Midlands regional organiser Chanel Willis told the Express and Star: “The big winners from the return of the 111 service to the public sector will be patients.
“From November they’ll once again be able to speak with highly trained NHS staff.
“When NHS services are privatised, the concern is always that costs will be kept down to drive up profits.
“UNISON is pleased that after four years health bosses have finally realised the 111 service is safer in the NHS family.”
Existing workers on the 111 service will now transfer over to WMAS. WMAS chief executive Anthony Marsh said: “We will also be looking to significantly increase the number of staff so that there is more resilience over the winter period.
“I firmly believe that this will be positive for both sets of staff for example, providing new opportunities to develop and progress their careers.”
Call handlers across three sites will be able to deal with both 999 and 111 calls and there will be retraining for all staff.
Marsh says: “We have an outstanding track record in running complex clinical call handling operations.
“This expertise will allow us to bring real improvements to the 111 service for both patients and our staff.”