NHS Direct in England
- Great Britain National Audit Office
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
NHS Direct provides a healthcare advice service to the public operated by nurses, through a telephone helpline and an online service. The report finds that public satisfaction with the service is consistently high at over 90 per cent, and it has a good safety record. However, some groups, including people aged over 65, ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities, are either less aware of the service or use it less, but have equal or greater need.
There is scope for more targeted efforts to reach these groups, both at a national and local level. It is estimated that NHS Direct is off-setting around half of its running costs by encouraging more appropriate use of NHS services, and evidence suggests that it has helped reduce demand on other out-of-hours healthcare services. The report highlights a number of key risks that NHS Direct will need to address, in order to successfully manage its future expansion and development. Longer term strategic and business planning is needed, including a staffing strategy to recruit more nurses without exacerbating nursing shortages elsewhere in the NHS. Action is required to ensure that targets for the time taken for callers to speak to a nurse are met. Integration with other healthcare providers should be monitored carefully, to ensure service standards are maintained and good practice is disseminated.
|Format||N/A||Published||25 Jan 2002|
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