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NHS Direct's future

7th October 2010

Joanne Shaw, chair and chief executive of NHS Direct, discusses the organisation’s future.

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Recent media attention about the future of NHS Direct has given us a welcome opportunity to open a dialogue with commissioners, particularly GPs, about the contribution it will make within the new landscape of the NHS.

With its remotely delivered advice and information service via NHS Direct, we believe the NHS could make greater use of new communication channels to offer people a better experience for lower cost, supporting self management and self care.

This would safeguard NHS face to face services for those who really need them.

The National Pandemic Flu Service (NPFS) was a good example having undertaken some three million remote assessments last summer and allowed one million people access to anti-virals without going through a GP.

We have 12 years experience of providing remote care and over the last six years have considerably eased the burden on GPs and cut A&E attendance with more patients given self care advice.

The proposed 111 non-emergency number is a significant opportunity to build on this experience, and to further join up the remote and physical NHS, providing the public with quick and easy access to unscheduled care through a free and memorable telephone number.

NHS Direct is involved in all the pilot sites and we believe there are particular areas that need to be better understood through them such as ensuring that 111 reduces the burden on face to face services.

From the current pilots, the plan is to roll it out across the UK by the end of 2012.

 

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