NHS Direct calls up 16% over Christmas

Calls to NHS Direct over Christmas increased by 16%, according to its figures.

Photograph: iStockphoto/Jeno Szaz
Photograph: iStockphoto/Jeno Szaz

They show that the service answered 255,562 calls between 20 December 2008 and 1 January 2009, compared with 221,225 during the same period 2007-8.

147,000 people visited NHS Direct’s new Symptom Checker, launched on the website www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk before Christmas to help sufferers check problems online.

The busiest day for telephone calls was Saturday 27 December (29,179 calls) with 26 December second on 26,130.

Paula Higson, NHS Direct interim chief executive, said: ‘The demand on our service was significantly increased due to the early outbreak of colds, flu and the winter vomiting bug.

‘On a number of days the spike in calls was unprecedented, with NHS Direct at one stage answering as many as 2,800 calls an hour.’

Top reasons for calls were dental problems, coughs, rashes, abdominal pain, vomiting (over 5s), ear problems, chest pain, medicines enquiry, fever in toddlers and throat problems.

neil.durham@haymarket.com

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