Letters

Impact of NHS Direct on demand for immediate care

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7268.1077 (Published 28 October 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1077

Target communities show poor awareness of NHS Direct

  1. John McInerney, specialist registrar. (emergmedlri@hotmail.com),
  2. Shekhar Chillala, specialist registrar.,
  3. Colin Read, specialist registrar.,
  4. Adrian Evans, consultant.
  1. Accident and Emergency Department, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester LE1 5WW
  2. Department Paediatrics, Sunderland Royal Hospital, Sunderland SR4 7TP
  3. Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool L12 2AP
  4. Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP

    EDITOR—Munro et al found that NHS Direct had no discernible effect on the use of emergency ambulances or accident and emergency departments in the first year of operation, leading to a suggestion that this service may not prove cost effective.1 The study is limited by an assumption that the population studied had complete awareness of the service. Six months after the introduction of East Midlands NHS Direct we had anecdotal evidence to suggest that many patients attending our accident and emergency department were unaware of the telephone advisory service.

    Consequently we undertook a survey of 300 consecutive ambulatory patients (or their parents) who referred themselves to the accident and emergency department and had not contacted NHS Direct. We wanted to find out whether they were aware of the service. Altogether 266 …

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