Log In
Thursday 24th May 2018

NHS Direct 'strain on system'

13th June 2007

Doctors and ambulance crews have claimed that NHS Direct is referring too many patients on to GPs and other emergency services.


The British Medical Association has now asked for an independent inquiry into the levels of minor problems being referred on. It feels NHS Direct has erred too much on the side of safety.

Figures show that NHS Direct, which receives 500,000 calls a month, refers on two thirds of calls. At present it handles 34% itself; refers 34% to dentists, GPs, pharmacies and walk-in centres; with the remaining 32% referred as urgent or emergency cases.

The NHS Alliance GP out-of-hours spokesman Dr Mark Reynolds said NHS Direct was being too cautious.

“They refer patients on as urgent or emergency when doctors doing out-of-hours or in A&E would not recognise them as such,? he said.

Jonathan Fox, of the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel, said his members had seen patients referred on with minor injuries, saying that some referrals were unnecessary.

NHS Direct clinical director Helen Young said the service was looking to increase the number of calls dealt with in-house but added: “As we do not see patients face-to-face we have to operate with a degree of caution.?

NHS Direct received support of A&E doctors with the British Association of Emergency Medicine saying it did not have a problem with the level of referrals.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “NHS Direct will continue to work to ensure that only appropriate callers are referred but it is important that patient safety is not compromised.?


Share this page


There are no comments for this article, be the first to comment!

Post your comment

Only registered users can comment. Fill in your e-mail address for quick registration.

Your email address:

Your comment will be checked by a Healthcare Today moderator before it is published on the site.

Mayden - Innovative cloud-based web development for the healthcare sector
© Mayden Foundation 2018