Intended for healthcare professionals


How helpful is NHS Direct? Postal survey of callers

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 15 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1035
  1. A O'Cathain, research fellow (,
  2. J F Munro, clinical lecturer,
  3. J P Nicholl, professor,
  4. E Knowles, research associate
  1. Medical Care Research Unit, School of Health and Related Research, Sheffield S1 4DA
  1. Correspondence to: A O'Cathain
  • Accepted 24 March 2000

NHS Direct, the new 24 hour telephone advice line staffed by nurses, was established to “provide easier and faster information for people about health, illness and the NHS so that they are better able to care for themselves and their families.”1 In March 1998, three first wave sites started in Lancashire, Milton Keynes, and Northumbria. As part of an extensive evaluation of this new service, 2 we surveyed callers to determine how helpful they found the advice offered.

Participants, methods, and results

With approval of local ethics committees, we sampled 350 consecutive callers at each site during one week in September 1998, giving a total of 1050 callers. The sampled period covered Saturday to Wednesday. A questionnaire about callers' experiences and views of NHS Direct was posted within one week of the call, with up to two reminders. A total of 719 questionnaires were completed by callers and 32 were not received by callers, …

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