Which? wants debate on NHS DirectHealth chiefs should ask public about changes

18 August 2006

 

A row of call centre operators, smiling.

Which? is calling for a public consultation into the proposed reorganisation of NHS Direct.

In May the 24-hour medical advice service - which operates a website and helpline - announced plans to cut more than 500 jobs and close 12 call centres across England.

The aim is to save £15 million in a bid to balance the books. But unions are threatening strikes.

Long waits

Which? Principal Policy Adviser Frances Blunden  said the lack of public consultation on the proposals was ‘outrageous’.

She added: ‘Which? research showed that people rely on NHS Direct as a key source of information, advice and support outside of normal GP surgery hours.  However, our research also showed that some people experienced difficulties in getting through at busy times and many waited a long time for their promised call-back from nurse advisers.

‘NHS Direct is not fulfilling its role adequately at the moment and the proposed cuts to the service will only make this situation worse. 

‘Which? is calling for a public consultation into the future of NHS Direct, to make the service publicly accountable and open to independent scrutiny.’