NHS Direct below target30th April 2007
NHS Direct is struggling to meet its complaints targets.
Criticisms of the medical helpline have risen by 50% since December and have reached 1.89 grievances in every 10,000 calls answered after a series of monthly rises in complaints about the service. The complaints target for NHS Direct is 0.75 objections per 10,000 calls meaning the service is currently failing to deliver on its promises. Charitable organisation, The Patients Association, says people are now calling them for advice and there have even been reports of NHS Direct staff telling members of the public to contact the charity for assistance. A spokesperson for The Patients Association said, "It is scandalous that this service [NHS Direct] is not doing what it should. We are a charity; we should not be picking up the pieces for a publicly-funded service."
NHS Direct has struggled to answer calls and offer speedy, pertinent advice since hundreds of jobs were lost last year when 12 of the service’s 50 centres were closed as part of a general NHS savings exercise. Bosses say that the service is now improving again after a major re-shuffle but performance data suggests otherwise; in recent months the service has failed to deal with non-urgent cases as efficiently as the required targets. A spokesperson for the helpline admitted the service had dropped below target but said he was confident it was picking up again. "There was a major reorganisation last year and it has taken time for that to bed down," he said.
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