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.
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.