Intended for healthcare professionals


Health watchdog criticises NHS helpline

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 12 August 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:401
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

    England's health service helpline NHS Direct has been criticised in consumer research for providing callers with inconsistent advice. NHS Direct is a 24 hour telephone advice line first launched in 1998 and now covering over two thirds of the population of England. It was set up to provide fast advice and information on health issues or on the NHS. If patients call NHS Direct about specific symptoms they should be transferred by a call handler to a nurse who uses a computer package with guidelines on a range of conditions to prompt questions and assess what advice to give.

    More than three million calls have been made to NHS Direct since it was launched. Researchers from the magazine Health Which? …

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