Burstow: “New 111 service will be better than NHS Direct”

by Stephen Tall on August 30, 2010

The news broke at the weekend that NHS Direct is to be scrapped by the Coalition Government, and replaced with a new service – 111 – a move anticipated in July’s Health White Paper, in which it was promised to:

Develop a coherent 24/7 urgent care service in every area of England that makes sense to patients when they have to make choices about their care. This will incorporate GP out-of-hours services and provide urgent medical care for people registered with a GP elsewhere. We will make care more accessible by introducing, informed by evaluation, a single telephone number for every kind of urgent and social care and by using technology to help people communicate with their clinicians

The new service, a party press release today tells us, is being piloted in four areas before being rolled out in 2013. It quotes Lib Dem health minister Paul Burstow welcoming the move:

“NHS 111 will build on NHS Direct but will go further providing a much more integrated service for the public.

“Unlike NHS Direct NHS 111 will be free to call. Where NHS Direct can only signpost other services NHS 111 will be able to book a GP appointment and go straight through to local out of hours services. If you do need an ambulance the 111 service will cut out the need to go through the 999 service assessment.

“NHS 111 will ensure people are put in touch with the right health professional first time. By doing that the new service will reduce the pressure on 999 services and A&E departments.

“This is a simple, cost effective idea: from 2013 people can ring 111 for non life threatening health concerns and 999 when it is a matter of life or death.”

Our poll asking whether Voice readers agree with the Coalition decision is still open:

Do you agree with the Coalition Government’s proposal to scrap NHS Direct and replace it with a new 111 service?







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The last time I looked at the tally, it was pretty much neck-and-neck with the slimmest of leads for the Coalition decision.

(Note to journalists: Voice polls are open to any reader, whether Lib Dem or not, to vote.)