MORE than 100 jobs have been created to run the failed 111 health helpline in Staffordshire from new headquarters in Stafford.
Recruitment of the staff including nurses, paramedics and people to handle calls starts at an open day today (Tues).
The 103 workers are to be hired by a GP out-of-hours company which has already taken over the North Staffordshire urgent medical service at nights and weekends.
Staffordshire Doctors Urgent Care (SDUC) won the contract after NHS Direct pulled out of running the 111 line which aims to remove less pressing calls from the 999 service and prevent people attend A&E.
Worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, it was awarded by the local NHS funding bodies the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in favour of a competing bid from the West Midlands Ambulance Service.
The move also means that the public will have their calls answered and acted on by staff in the county instead of at the former NHS control room in Dudley.
SDUC runs the out-of-hours GP cover from a new surgery in Campbell Road, Stoke.
It already stepped on to takeover the 111 system temporarily after NHS Direct admitted it could not afford to carry on with the work.
The organisation is part of the Vocare Group whose medical director Dr Mike Harrison said: “The Staffordshire NHS 111 service is coming home and will be delivered from a central location in Stafford.
“This will mean the creation of more than 100 local jobs including clinical and non-clinical staff in the form of nurses and support staff.”
He added that the aim was to have staff using their own local knowledge to deliver a service “more attune to Staffordshire residents’ needs.”
The new staff will be based at Beaconside in Stafford where nurses will be stationed in a call centre dispensing advice to the public.
The jobs boost was welcomed by business academics.
Dr Ian Jackson, enterprise reader at Staffordshire University, said: “This is great news for the local economy. A lot of private sector jobs depend on the public sector purse.
“On top of the knock-of economic benefits from the jobs themselves it will mean people are working in their own community where they are adding their own local knowledge to the quality of the service.”
Vocare started in the North East of England where they already run the 111 line for a population of two and a half million.
The recruitment open day is between 10am and 4pm at Stafford Beacon Conference in Staffordshire Technology Park, Anson Court.
Applications have been sought for full and part-time roles to reflect how many nurses and others seek the flexibility of working round other commitments.