WITH less than two months to go until the out-of hours contract for medical provision with Shropdoc comes to an end, health campaigner Joy Jones, believes that many questions about how the new 111 service will work, need answering.

Joy Jones, who is also a Powys County Councillor has just met with Powys Teaching Health Board, chief executive Carol Shillabeer, to discuss the situation.

Joy Jones spoke to The County Times, said: "I had quite a good meeting.

"I want full reassurance that this is going to be a like for like service and that everything will be in place in time.

"I would still urge Powys Teaching local health Board, that if Shropdoc is viable, then they should continue working with them.

"It's important that we are able to to hold the health board to account and get the answers needed as this change will be will be affecting peoples lives."

Powys Teaching Health Board along with commissioners in England have been supporting Shropdoc to ensure that services are being maintained.

In December NHS Shropshire CCG, NHS Telford and Wrekin CCG and Powys Teaching Health Board, all confirmed that the contract with Shropdoc would end on March 31.

Commissioners in England have confirmed that they plan to undertake a procurement process for out of hours services during 2018, as has been their intention since 2016.

Carol Shillabeer, Chief Executive of Powys Teaching Health Board said: "Given Shropdoc’s financial challenges there is a risk that they would not be successful in a procurement process.

"If they were not successful then there is a significant concern that the organisation would no longer exist in a form that enabled them to sustain a viable out of hours service just for Powys.

"We must have a plan for a sustainable and continuous service for the people of Powys.

"Patients, general practice, and our wider unscheduled care system needs a thriving and high quality out of hours service to be in place.

"Alongside these challenges we have opportunities. "

"Wales is well on the way to developing a country-wide NHS 111 service which provides a one stop shop for health information and advice including access to GP out of hours services.

"This is already in place in the Swansea area, in Carmarthenshire, and most recently in Ystradgynlais.

"Given these challenges and opportunities we have put in place a programme to agree and implement the future delivery of integrated 111 and out of hours services for Powys."

"This will include:

· A single free number for patients to call 24 hours a day for health information and advice—111

· Out of hours call handling and initial triage through NHS 111 Wales, provided by Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust

· A Powys-specific secondary triage and face-to-face service

"Our work is well underway with the transition period planned at this stage to take place during the summer. "