Farewell, NHS Direct

I was shocked to discover that NHS Direct had been shut down today. The news media was silent on the fact, perhaps because the planned closure was accelerated. Its own, now-defunct website gives its own closing date five days in the future. NHS Direct - Closure

I only called them myself once, as a teenager freaking out on too many drugs. They were very nice to me, and assured me that I wasn’t going to die.

I’ve had them called on my behalf, while unconscious following a seizure, so people could check if I needed an ambulance. Thanks to that, NHS resources were saved, as an ambulance wasn’t needed.

NHS Direct was a service like no other. It was our way of checking up on those niggling little problems, those “it’s probably nothing to worry about, but…” issues. The things you’d never bother booking a doctor’s appointment for, the things that just didn’t feel right. And often, they’d probably turn out to be nothing, but sometimes that service saved lives.

And now it has been torn down, destroyed, almost unmourned. NHS Direct died alone in the dark. It is a frightening view of our future, the direction that healthcare itself is taking. It’s what they want: the poor, the sick, the disabled, quietly dying out of sight and out of mind.

And we must resist this by noticing. We see what they are doing, and we are disgusted by it. As they strip away the provisions to keep us alive, we must say we see it all. Together, let’s mourn NHS Direct and show that they cannot pull the wool over our eyes.

3 thoughts on “Farewell, NHS Direct”

  1. I worked there. Its been gone from this location for two years, we’ve had 111 instead. The Tories have always hated it because it was Tony’s baby.

    I was mocked by all types of NHS staff from doctors through to porters, “Haha NHS Redirect!’. They claimed we sent patients to them for sunburn, hasmster bites and stubbed toes (bullshit), that we were dangerous (extrenely stringent clinical supervision meant there were fewer than ten Serious Adverse Events since 19fucking97), and a waste of money (it was set up not only to handle minor ailments and health information, but als I to provide employment for the thousands of senior nurses injured while working on the wards, and unable to do so any longer)

    I always pointed out that the public knew that by going to A&E unnecessarily and blaming NHS Direct (who they hadn’t had contact with) that staff would direct frustration and anger at NHSD, not the idio TT s using up resources. I also pointed out that, without NHSD, A&E, GP OOH and dental urgent care would be overwhelmed by the millions who would now have nowhere to turn. As it was withdrawn region by region I was proven right, unmanageable A&E waiting lists, pressure on GP and dental services, and people dying as ambulances are being sent to deal with backaches and hangovers.

    Nurses have been swapped for call handlers, and clinical supervisors replaced by… Nothing.

    People will die, more disabled people are ion the scrap heap, and the Tories bvray and cheer.

    I’m disabled. I worked there dispensing health information, and , it was an amazing place to wo er k. My conditions were treated sympathetically, I was treated with dignity and respect, and my colleagues were an amazing bunch. Thanks to the tradition of equality in employment we were straight and queer, cis and trans, white, Asian and black Britons and former French, African and Pakistani nationals.

    As I grew more unwell they did absolutely everything possible to keep mm e as part of the workforce. It was special, innovative, unique and misunderstood, but a vital services.

    Trust mW, I’ll be shedding tears tonight.

    Fuck the ConDemNation.

  2. I’m in agreement with my colleague above. “NHS Redirect”. Well yes. I’m not sure how to fix a heart attack or broken hip over the phone, but I can offer advice and instructions of what to do while waiting for the ambulance. I’ll happily discuss you sudden D&V and tell you what steps to take. “They always told me to go to my GP”. Probably you were unwell and needed to be seen. “They always say take paracetamol and fluids” often this is the best advice. A lot of problems clear up without intervention. And what’s this “always”? Suggests you’ve called more than once. Calling again for more rubbish advice?
    I’ll miss NHSD. As part of the group of disabled nurses this has been a double blessing: I keep working and my extensive skills aren’t lost to the NHS. Not quite sure where to go now.

  3. And another thing, while various people have complained about the service being slow, or denying the treatment they wanted, we were new. We were safe. Clinical governance and supervision was at the core of all we did. Clinical excellence, patient safety and staff knowledge updates were part of everything.
    There’d never been anything like it. It was a triumph. We took 70,000,000 calls. Seventy million calls.
    You will miss us. We are caught up in a political game. Heartless ideology and love of money make up the ammunition in the war for the NHS. Watch out. We don’t know the next target.

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