NHS Direct

I’ve realised that my blogging life slipped a little when I began tweeting – not a surprising fact but it’s made me think about how best to express my opinions. In short, I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to put a bit more into my proper blogging. With that in mind…

You all know it’s been a bit of a year for me and my health. One of the most amazing, cheerful and kind set of people I’ve found, throughout the ups and downs, has been the medically-trained team at NHS Direct. NHS Direct is a 24-7-365 health advice line here in the UK, staffed by people who actually know what they’re doing. You ring up, explain your problem, they take the details and get a trained nurse to call you back within a certain fairly-short period of time. It’s easy and efficient and saves money and time (for both the patient and medical staff) at A&E and in GPs’ surgeries.

When I got a rash and my wound seemed to be turning a funny shade of green last year, I rang NHS Direct to ask their advice. Nurse advised and after a quick trip to pick up some over-the-counter ointment, I was sorted. When my heart suddenly started beating far faster than ever before and I struggled to breathe for a few minutes last winter, NHS Direct were our first port of call and it was the nurses advice and knowledge that had me feeling better. Moreover, their willingness to call the out-of-hours doctor for my area to check on my progress a short time later meant any trip to the A&E (with it’s unenviable 2-3 hour wait) was not necessary that night. Their cheerful, helpful and brilliantly fantastic staff make the service so easy to deal with and they can be so calming when you’re worrying or scared. They are the Google that actually knows the answer to your health-related question.

The Conservative / Liberal Democrat government’s plans for NHS Direct have slipped into the public arena. On Thursday, during a visit to a hospital, the current Health Secretary let slip that NHS Direct was to be axed. The claim is that it will be replaced by a cheaper service, NHS 111, without the medically-trained staff. This is outrageous!

Lucky for us, a campaign has swung into action and Prime Minister David Cameron has said that any petition gaining 10,000 signature or more would guarantee a House of Commons debate on the matter. You can visit the campaign (currently simply the front page of the petition) website at http://www.savenhsdirect.co.uk – please do sign if you live in the UK. I’ll post more as the action unfolds.

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