PLANS for a new service to treat patients with minor illnesses more quickly have been delayed.

Proposals to create a number of new urgent care facilities have now been pushed back until later this year.

This is because of a decision to stop a Sussex-wide search for a provider to run the controversial NHS 111 service.

Health bosses are now hoping to attract a wider number of bidders.

As a result, plans to open new Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) – which would provide faster treatment for people with non-emergency illnesses – have been put on hold until the details become clear.

Jessica Britton, chief operating officer for the Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford Clinical Commissioning Group and the Hastings and Rother CCG, told a health meeting: said: “Because of the stop to the Sussex-wide 111 procurement, we need to rapidly assess what impact that has on our proposals.

“Because the specification and system for our Urgent Treatment Centres was, in part, predicated on some of the proposals within the 111 system, what we’re asking is that we undertake that rapid assessment and resubmit some proposals in the autumn.”

Hugo Luck, associate director of delivery at the High Weald, Lewes and Havens CCG, said: “[NHS 111] is seen by the government as the gateway to a number of urgent care services.

“Eventually the aim is for patients to be able to book in to see their GP through 111 or to book appointments at Urgent Treatment Centres.

“Certainly since its inception, around five years ago, calls have steadily risen, the public seem more familiar with the number and do tend to use it more.

“But we do recognise that we need to get patients, firstly speaking to someone far quicker through the service and also speaking to a clinician.

“With that in mind the Sussex CCGs have engaged on a reprocurement of the 111 service”