16 January 2013
Potential changes to NHS Direct
The Government has announced its intention to eventually replace the current NHS Direct telephone number (0845 46 47) with the new 111 number once it is rolled out nationally. Some of NHS Direct’s roles are expected to be taken over by the new phone line service. The 111 number is currently being trialled in the North East.
Dr Peter Carter, Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive & General Secretary, said: “NHS Direct has developed over recent years into a service that many patients really value. Nurses have led the way in making this a service which can offer reassurance and advice as well as identifying when people are in need of urgent care. The evidence suggests that the expert advice of nurses has kept one and a half million people out of A & E, and saved the NHS £213 million pounds a year. It would be shortsighted to cut back on the experts who deliver these long term savings.
“We would be extremely concerned if the expertise it offers is indeed under threat. We urge the government to consult fully and look at all the evidence before enacting changes which could leave people without expert advice from trained nurses.”