/ Health

Will the new 111 number live up to NHS Direct?

Sick woman in bed on phone

The latest move in this National Health Service (NHS) game of ‘stand up, sit down, keep moving’ is the scrapping of NHS Direct and the piloting of 111 – the new number for non-emergency calls. But will it be as good?

While NHS Direct is a nurse-led telephone advice service, it’s not entirely clear whether the single point of access 111 number will offer the same level of advice – it might simply point people in the right direction for the services they need.

Many of my friends have young kids and they’ve shared their positive experiences of NHS Direct. So it’s hard to know if this move to three-digits will prove a simpler route for health advice, or whether it’s more about old-fashioned cost-cutting.

And that’s the feeling I get as I struggle to stay afloat on a raft of NHS changes. No more primary care trusts. GP’s commissioning health services, all gone. Bye, bye Audit Commission. Nice knowing you Patient Safety Agency. See you later NHS targets… well, you get the idea.

The trade union Unison says that this barrage of changes is the problem. No-one’s asked me – or any other member of the great, unwashed public – what we think. And actually it’s hard to form a coherent view when you’re feeling somewhat bombarded.

I’ve never used NHS Direct anyway, but I know a lot of mums and dads out there have, and perhaps you have too. Are you sad to see it go, and what should the new 111 learn from it?


I think it is simply a cost cutting exercise – the change to non qualified people at the end of the line is certainly doubtful – but cheaper – I can just imagine them looking up an on-line F.A.Q.just as so many off shore tele – “support” lines.with equal lack of success.

There seems to be a Tory agenda to destroy the Health Service as they did the Railway Service. in a previous goverment.

I’m a parent of two young children. I have used NHS direct over the last few years. It used to be a very good service, providing peace of mind when temperatures of the kids seemed to be spiking through the roof. Having said that I have noticed that over the last 2 years the service has gone down hill. Maybe demand has reached the point where the current service cant cope; I was called back after 36hrs for a recent query. A service that tells me to go to A&E isn’t useful, talking to a medical professional is. If the NHS Direct website could be beefed up into a better self diagnosis tool, that would be better than 111.

I’ve used NHS Direct a lot – both for myself and my daughter. For me, it’s a first point of call when I have a concern but don’t feel bad enough to book a doctor’s appointment. A lot of the time you just want a bit of reassurance or a recommendation of what to get from the pharmacy rather than hanging around the GP surgery for hours on end. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who has significantly cut the number of doctor’s appointments I’ve booked in this way, so cutting this service will only have a knock-on effect on GP surgeries in the long-run. Unless this new 111 number provides a decent service, that is… we’ll wait and see.

Bit like calling the Police on a local number for non-life threatening calls – they never answer the phone!
No answer it just rings and this is the county police station of Buckinghamshire.

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