NHS Direct to be phased out, DoH confirms

NHS Direct will be scrapped and replaced by the new 111 non-emergency number, the DoH has confirmed.

The DoH said the move would provide a better service to patients that makes ‘real sense’ and was not a cost-cutting exercise.

A spokeswoman said: ‘We want to put an end to the confusion over what services are available when and where, and provide people with two simple numbers: 999 for emergencies, 111 for everything else.'

The 111 number has already been introduced in County Durham and Darlington, and is set to be rolled out in Nottingham City and Lincolnshire and Luton, Bedfordshire later this year.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GPC negotiator, said: ‘Given the government’s commitment to the 111 number it was always inevitable that the future of NHS Direct was unsustainable in its current form.

‘We need to ensure that some aspects of NHS Direct, which are useful are continued – in particularly providing patients with information, such as through the website, which is evidence-based.’

He added: ‘What we need to ensure is that 111 works effectively and works with GPs in their commissioning role and that it learns from some of problems with NHS Direct.’

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